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ICRISAT

Happenings In-house Newsletter

14 March 2014 No. 1614

Young school children in rural India eating millet chappatis with rice and vegetable curry.

Photo: A Paul-Bossuet, ICRISAT

Understanding agricultural pathways to better nutrition and income What does it take for agriculture to have strong nutritional impacts on rural households?

increasing the awareness and demand for more nutritious varieties. This included options to help differentiate varieties in both the eyes of the farmers and consumers and bring benefits to both groups.

This was the focus of the deliberations in a back-toback workshops organized by the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative (TCi), in cooperation with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and ICRISAT’s Markets, Institutions and Policies (MIP) Program.

The nutrition challenges facing India are extraordinary: the country suffers one of the highest global rates of childhood stunting and malnutrition (48%, UNICEF 2013), and micronutrient deficiencies like anemia among women.

Developing the value chains of highly nutritious crops From the deliberations with agribusiness entrepreneurs, NGOs and scientists, two groups of value chains were determined to be critical to enhance – sorghum and millet along with pulses. Hurdles and solutions were then identified along the whole value chain – from the need for combined biofortified and higher yielding varieties, to

Rural Indian families depend on smallholder agriculture for income and their own food, which can play a strong role in reducing malnutrition. Although the development case for using food value chains for nutritional impact is strong, making these links commercially viable and ensuring that nutritional impacts reach the rural households has proved to be much more challenging. to page 2 ...4


Understanding agricultural pathways...from page 1 Tracking changes to malnutrition – bring the agriculture and health surveys together There are many high quality health surveys conducted, however, they rarely include the role agriculture is playing. Also in reverse, there are many high quality agriculture surveys that do not include the impacts on nutrition and health. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT Drs C Bantilan and P Pingali facilitating discussions at the workshop on This issue was tackled in an adjacent ‘Minimum dataset for nutrition in agricultural surveys’. workshop to develop minimum datasets that could be used in agriculture surveys to The multi-sectoral meeting on ‘Aggregation models incorporate health and nutrition, as well as for income and nutrition’ held on 27-28 February was minimum data sets to be used in health surveys to attended by the private sector, and non-government organizations and researchers from CGIAR Centers identify the agricultural influences. advanced research institutions. Focusing on the ‘Minimum dataset for nutrition in Expanding production and enabling access to agricultural surveys’, the workshop held on 24-26 biofortified pearl millet and iron-rich food, was February at the ICRISAT headquarters, was an viewed as important to provide access to extension of a meeting by the same title held at micronutrients for communities that depend on Cornell University in December 2013. cereals. Some of the recommendations during the Dr Prabhu Pingali from TCi presented the conceptual meeting included: 1) making biofortification integral framework to set the direction for determining the in all national breeding programs; 2) policy reform to most essential nutrition metrics to be included in ensure that varieties have minimum threshold levels of Fe (iron) and Zn (zinc); 3) organizing consumer agricultural surveys. From the discussions, three awareness and education campaigns and promotion sets of indicators were prioritized: of ‘health foods’; and 4) research and development 1) Dietary diversity scoring and food frequency targeting increased productivity of biofortified pearl scoring; millet varieties at farmer level. 2) Anthropometric indicators – height, weight and Increasing the consumption of traditionally available mid upper arm circumference measurements; and pulses, including chickpea and pigeonpea, can play a 3) Biochemical markers. key role in sustaining access to protein-dense food The dietary diversity scoring and food frequency that improves nutrition, as discussed in the meeting. scoring instruments were pilot tested by the Village Strengthening demand for pulse production can also Dynamics Studies in South Asia (VDSA) team in the mean income opportunities for rural families farming marginalized, rainfed land where little else can grow. village of Dokur on 26 February. to page 3 ...4

Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Participants of the workshop on ‘Aggregation models for income and nutrition’. 2 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 MARCH 2014 1614


Pigeonpea cultivation improving livelihoods of farmers in Odisha, India

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igeonpea farmers in the Indian state of Odisha are experiencing a significant 70% increase in yield by using ICRISAT improved varieties over the traditional landrace. This in turn has resulted in about 90% increase in income levels. In the past year, a total of 620,000 kg of various certified seeds of farmer preferred varieties and hybrids were Photo: ICRISAT produced from the seed Participants of the workshop at the newly inaugurated godown in Bhawanipatna. production component of the project ‘Introduction and Expansion of Improved (Foundation, Certified and Truthfully-Labelled seeds) Pigeonpea Production Technology in Rainfed Upland of ICP 7035, ICPL 88039, Asha, Maruti, ICPH 2671 and Ecosystem of Odisha’ funded by the Government of ICPH 2740 to cover the target production area of Odisha under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) 10,000 hectares for the year. The project‘s mid-term sub-scheme and is being implemented in Rayagada, assessment study was also presented. Kalahandi and Nuapada districts. ICRISAT’s Dr Myer Mula and Mr Vijaya Kumar The highlights of the 2013-2014 crop season were inaugurated godowns in Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi presented at a workshop held in Bhawanipatna, and Rayagada. Mr K Hanmanth Rao, Manager of Kalahandi on 4 March. A total of 70 participants Farm Services, ICRISAT, made a presentation on including five Deputy Directors of Agriculture (for godown management. Part of the godowns will also Rayagada, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Boudh and Bolinger serve as offices for ICRISAT staff assigned in the area districts), agricultural technicians, non-government for ease in project monitoring. Mr Sarat Tripathy organizations, ICRISAT staff and farmers attended the (State Coordinator) presented the 2013-2014 Orientation and Planning Workshop for 2014-2015 to cropping season accomplishments. map the way forward. This project is being undertaken under the CGIAR Participants of the workshop deliberated on seed Research Program on Grain Legumes. g procurement of 79 tons of various seed classes

Understanding agricultural pathways ...from page 2 Among the key recommendations to capitalize on improved nutrition and income through pulses included: 1) improved farm management strategies at the farm-level; 2) opportunities to link smallholder pulse production to public distribution system to increase availability in critical areas through a clear market route; 3) increased investment in research including better varieties (e.g., short duration, disease resistance, etc.); and 4) developing alternative market routes (e.g., snack or ‘ready-to-go’ foods).

This workshop laid the groundwork for the design and eventual implementation of pilot project testing aggregation model interventions for nutrition to be organized by the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative in collaboration with ICRISAT. Click on the link to read the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative’s blog post about the Aggregation models meeting: http://blogs.cornell.edu/ agricultureandnutrition/2014/03/12/tci-convenesworking-group-in-india-focused-on-smallholderaggregation-models-for-improving-nutriton/ g

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Promoting pearl millet technologies to improve livelihoods of the poor

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takeholders and partners of the ICRISAT-led Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets project Photo: ICRISAT got together at a Participants of the policy workshop in Bikaner, Rajasthan. policy outreach workshop focused on promoting pearl millet of arid/semi-arid tropics. He indicated the technologies in western India for improving importance of farmer support schemes to ensure productivity, profitability and livelihoods of the poor. supply of quality seeds (mini-seed packets) and plant nutrients (fertilizer kits) backed by technical guidance At the workshop held in Bikaner, Rajasthan on 24 and knowledge transfer (farmer schools). February, more than 100 delegates from various state departments of agriculture and seed Dr N Nagaraj, Objective 1 Leader of the HOPE project, corporations, national seed corporation, private seed discussed the importance of technologies, enabling companies, agro-input dealers, processors and policy policies, institutions, and infrastructure to make pearl makers, and scientists from state agricultural millet more remunerative in relation to competing universities and ICRISAT deliberated on various issues crops and a viable source of income to farmers in the including: critical gaps in technology transfer and semi-arid tropics. outreach strategies; scarcity of labor in harvesting, Dr MN Singh, Director, Directorate of Millets threshing and fodder processing; priority Development, Department of Agriculture and interventions for upscaling; and policy incentives for Co-operation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of adoption of improved technologies. India, chaired the technical session. Dr Rajan Sharma, Dr Govind Singh, Director of Research, Swami HOPE Objective 6 coordinator for South Asia, Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in (SKRAU), welcomed the participants and appreciated ensuring long-term availability of hybrid seed to the the sincere efforts of ICRISAT-HOPE project scientists. farmers, and of NGOs in enhancing delivery of new The Vice Chancellor of the university, Dr AK Dahama, products. highlighted the importance of millet in western India Dr SK Gupta, HOPE Objective 3 coordinator for South from the view point of food and nutritional security, Asia, emphasized the role of hybrids in enhancing and feed and fodder security for livestock, as well as crop productivity under rainfed conditions, the need to set up a proper improved seed supply particularly in Rajasthan (under arid ecologies), the mechanism for smallholder farmers to improve productivity of millet in harsh, marginalized ecologies. state which has more than 50% of the area under pearl millet in the country. Mrs Vimla Dukwal, Traditionally, pearl millet is the inevitable choice in Professor of Nutrition, SKRAU, presented in detail the semi-arid western India. Pearl millet’s resilience to various components of pearl millet value added climate change, increasing demand for food as a products, quality parameters and market strategies consequence of population growth, stagnant/ of processed food. declining yields of wheat and rice, limitations to stretch irrigation, all necessitate investments in pearl The workshop concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr PS Shekhawat and Dr IP Singh, local organizers millet. representing the HOPE team. The activity was Dr Harinarayana, a former Project Coordinator undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program (Millets) referred to pearl millet as the golden grain on Dryland Cereals. g 4 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 MARCH 2014 1614


Improved groundnut variety released in India

Photo: Ganesamurthy, TNAU Photo: ICRISAT

ICRISAT and TNAU staff along with farmers visiting FPVS trials in Erode district, Tamil Nadu.

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armer participatory varietal selection (FPVS) trials have enabled the release of yet another new improved groundnut variety in India. The ICGV 00351, a farmer preferred variety of groundnut was released as Co 7 by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) for cultivation in both rainy and postrainy seasons in the state of Tamil Nadu. Currently grown bunch varieties account for 62% of groundnut area in the state and are low pod yielders. The ICGV 00351, a Spanish bunch variety is expected to replace them to increase production and productivity of groundnut in the state. The new variety was identified as a farmer preferred variety from trials conducted in Erode and Thiruvannamalai districts of the state under the Tropical Legumes II project during 2008 to 2010/11. In these trials, ICGV 00351 recorded a pod yield increase of 15-18% over VRI Gn 6 and 26-31% over TMV Gn 13. The variety is not only superior for pod yield but is also drought-tolerant and moderately resistant to rust and late leaf spot. Farmers also selected ICGV 00351 for higher haulm yield besides the pod yield advantage. The haulm yield was 6% over VRI Gn 6 and 12-14% over TMV Gn 13.

Project partners from TNAU, led by Prof Ganesamurthy, have organized Nucleus and Breeder Seed Production training at the College of Agriculture, TNAU during the 2013/14 postrainy season to support the formal seed system. Truthfully-labelled seed production training was also organized in the farmers’ field in Erode, Kanchipuram, Salem and Tanjore districts to make quality seed of new varieties available to farmers through an informal seed system. The FPVS approach is a successful method to identify and release farmer preferred varieties. Going by the success so far, new FPVS trials comprising of high oil yielding varieties (ICGV 07222, ICGV 07018, ICGV 06146 and ICGV 03128) are underway in Erode district. The Tropical Legumes II project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a joint initiative of three international agricultural research centers: ICRISAT (chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (cowpea and soybean), and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (common bean). The project is undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes. g

ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 MARCH 2014 1614 5


Progress of sorghum biofortification research at ICRISAT reviewed

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he progress of sorghum biofortification research at ICRISAT was reviewed by a team from HarvestPlus led by its Deputy Director, Dr Wolfgang Pfeiffer, and Product Development Manager, Dr Parminder Virk, in a visit to the biofortified sorghum fields at the ICRISAT headquarters on 28 February. With funding support from HarvestPlus, ICRISAT is working on increasing grain Fe (iron) and Zn (zinc) concentration in sorghum starting from a base level of 30 ppm Fe and 20 ppm Zn to reach the revised targets of 60 ppm Fe and 32 ppm Zn. In the process, a large number of commercial cultivars, advanced breeding lines, established hybrid parents and core collections of sorghum germplasm were assessed by ICRISAT for grain Fe and Zn, and high Fe and Zn lines were used as donors in the crossing program for further improvement.

During the review, the HarvestPlus team examined a range of sorghum materials starting from early generation segregants to elite sorghum hybrids with high grain Fe and Zn in addition to higher yield. The team expressed keen interest in five hybrids ICSH 14001 (Fe 49 ppm and Zn 38 ppm), ICSH 14002 (Fe 46 ppm and Zn 32 ppm), ICSA 661 × ICSR 196 (Fe 45 ppm and Zn 36 ppm), ICSA 318 × ICSR 94 (Fe 45 ppm and Zn 34 ppm), ICSA 336 × IS 3760 (Fe 45 ppm and Zn 40 ppm), and a R-line/variety ICSR 14001 (Fe 42 ppm and Zn 35 ppm) which are meeting the current breeding targets for grain Zn. They advised the ICRISAT sorghum team to work towards commercialization using the Sorghum Hybrid Parent’s Research Consortium (SHPRC) platform. Sorghum is among the top 10 crops that

Drs Wolfgang Pfeiffer (2nd from left) and Parminder Virk (1st left) with the sorghum team examining the advanced breeding line with high Zn and Fe.

feed the world and is one of the cheapest sources of energy and micronutrients, particularly Fe and Zn. More than 500 million people in Africa and India depend on sorghum for their dietary energy and micronutrient requirements. The increasing grain micronutrient concentration in sorghum helps in combating dietary induced micronutrient malnutrition in these regions. HarvestPlus uses biofortification to breed higher amounts of vitamins and minerals directly into staple foods including sorghum and pearl millet. It is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The activity was undertaken as a part of CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals. g

Strengthening groundnut and sorghum value chains in Nigeria

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armers from Kano, Nigeria have renewed their commitment and support to ICRISAT’s groundnut and sorghum value chains projects, at a one-day training session organized by ICRISAT Nigeria.

About 20 farmers from various areas of the Kano state attended the training conducted by ICRISAT staff on 11 March in various areas including choosing the ideal field for seed crop production, land preparation processes, marking sowing/sowing dates, seeding rate and spacing, isolation distance, fertilizer application, weed control, disease and pest control, rouging, harvesting, drying and storage. The session was organized in collaboration with Vitae Seeds Nigeria Ltd for selected seed out growers on improved 6 ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 MARCH 2014 1614

cereals and legume seed production technologies with particular emphasis on sorghum and groundnut.

Four staff members of the seed firm led by Mrs Grace Job took part in the session. Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe presented to the farmers, a DVD titled ‘fighting Striga’ produced by ICRISAT through the HOPE project. It contains 10 modules on different topics ranging from control of Striga to seed storage and crop-livestock integration in the local language of Hausa as well as Fulfulde, English, French and Zarma. Dr Babu N Motagi, a Groundnut Breeder at ICRISAT Kano presented a lecture on legumes production while Mr Ayuba Kunihya (Scientific Officer) briefed the participants on cereals seed production. g


At the International Women’s Film Festival of Hyderabad

Showcasing the strength of a rural woman farmer

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ver the past four decades, ICRISAT’s Village Level Studies (VLS) now also called Village Dynamics Studies has helped document the lives of women farmers in India in overcoming odds and transforming their lives through better agriculture and livelihood options, and research for development, policy and investment interventions. The success story of one such rural Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT woman farmer, Yadamma of Aurepalle Audience at the screeing of “A day in the Life…”. village in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, India, documented as a short film “A day in the Life…” was featured at the “The story of Yadamma is fascinating and there are International Women’s Film Festival of Hyderabad on more of such women in the country who are seen as 9 March at Lamakaan, in celebration of a very big force to bring about change in rural areas,” International Women’s Day. The film was appreciated Dr Lakshmi Lingam, Deputy Director at Tata Institute by over 40 people in the audience. of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, said during the panel discussion after the screening. Yadamma has been part of ICRISAT’s VLS since 1975. She started her life as a village outcast with no “ICRISAT is now practicing a ‘gender transformative’ education, married at the age of 11, and worked as a approach in all its research for development (R4D) domestic help and daily labor in farms of village initiatives. Our scientists, with guidance from gender heads. But, by initiating and leading self-help groups specialists are exploring more opportunities for value and exploring other livelihood options, she fought addition to the services of women farmers,” said poverty and succeeded in providing a healthy, Dr R Padmaja Scientist (Gender Research), Markets, hygienic living and quality education for her children Institutions and Policies, ICRISAT. (four girls). Much of her success, as Yadamma says, “Women comprise 43% of agricultural labor in could be attributed to better skills, multiple developing countries, and they are more likely to livelihood options, access to money to invest, and channel their income from agriculture to the health hygiene, health and nutrition education. and education of their families,” said Ms Cristina P Yadamma continues to live in Aurapalle inspiring Bejosano of ICRISAT’s Strategic Marketing and other women in the village and continuing her Communication, in highlighting the importance of entrepreneurial works. As a leader in the village, she integrating gender into R4D. has helped many women to be empowered. Mr Ajay Kurian, the film producer and Mr Sachindra Siddella, the director, from Videosource Studios were also present during the film screening.

(From L-R) Dr L Lingam, Dr R Padmaja and Ms C Bejosano interacting with the audience at the film festival.

The VLS has been funded over the years by the US Agency for International Development, Oxford University, World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is currently undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets. g ICRISAT HAPPENINGS 14 MARCH 2014 1614 7


Farmers in Kenyan highlands taking to chickpea cultivation during short rains

Photos: ICRISAT

Farmers at a chickpea farm of the university during the field day.

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ore and more farmers are taking to chickpea cultivation in the dry highlands of Kenya during short rains, thanks to the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project. Most farmers in the region have been practicing maize/wheat-legume relay cropping. Recently, however, they have started converting their lands to chickpea cultivation, which uses low moisture during short rains from October to February after the cereal harvest, and before the next long cropping season in March/April. This was demonstrated at a recent field day organized by Egerton University, a partner of ICRISAT under the TL II project, held on 28 February at Njoro District attended by 115 farmers, of whom majority were women. Farmer representatives from Molo, Machakos, Garaba, Koibatek and Naivasha Districts joined the field day to exchange ideas with and learn from ICRISAT Nairobi and Egerton University scientists. Areas where chickpea has gained popularity in Kenya include Koibatek, Bomet, Mbeere, Garaba, Mwea, Embuk, and Kerio valley. Major varieties grown are ICCV 00305, 00108 and ICCV 97126 and ICCV 92944.

Chickpea recipes on display.

At the field day, farmers appreciated the high productivity of improved variety Chania Desi 1 (ICCV 97105) and Kabuli Saina K1 (ICCV 95423). The farmers also received training on agronomic management of chickpea, insect and disease control, utilization and marketing. Several recipes including that of chickpea githeri (mix of maize and chickpea), mandazi, chapati, and cakes were introduced to the farmers. Representatives from Faida Seeds Company, Ministry of Agriculture, East African Grain Council; seed distributors from Njoro and Nakuru; and Egerton University’s TL II chickpea team led by the Director of Research and Extension Prof Alfred Kibor, University Industry Liason officer Prof Rhoda Birech and Chickpea Project-Principal Investigator Dr Paul Kimurto took part in the event. ICRISAT’s Dr Moses Siambi, Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Dr NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist - Breeding (Grain Legumes) joined in taking stock of the ongoing chickpea experiments and seed multiplication plots at the University’s experimental fields. g

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ICRISAT Happenings (14 March 2014)