Eastern and Southern Africa
ICRISAT
 
 

399 million - The number of people living in the region

70% - Percentage that lives in rural areas

85% - The number of extremely poor in the region who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods

ESA - The area most heavily affected by the HIV epidemic



Innovation platforms to livelihoods

Agricultural systems in Africa are notoriously low input-low output systems. This results in low production, and often very little to sell off to generate the much needed cash income. Moreover, markets in rural areas are extremely poorly developed and farmers often find themselves ill-informed about market requirements, grades and standards, price structures and associated policies. In addition, small land holdings and poor labor productivity result in very little excess for market-related sale. In semi-arid areas, where crop production is very risky, households sell their small livestock to pay for food, education and human health. Goat markets were poorly developed and transaction costs for all were very high, resulting in very low income/profits. Low reproductive rates and high mortality, primarily a result of poor dry season feeding, limits the number of animals a household can offer for sale, while poor animal condition and breed results in low prices at informal markets.

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Incubating confidence

The Indian National Agricultural Research System (NARS) is considered as one of the largest publicly funded research systems in the world. However, gaps in its extension machinery have held back many of its research developments from realizing their full potential and reaching its intended target group – the farmers. This has also led to technology fatigue in the system and is detrimental to the agriculture sector in which more than 60 percent of the population depends for its livelihood.

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The human face at the center of all
Grain legumes are protein rich foods that balance cereal-based diets and are the least resource demanding option to improve the nutrition of poor people. In Malawi, smallholder farmers generally consume and sell grain
legumes, benefiting from food and income gains. Grain legumes also contribute enormously to sustainable intensification and raising of food production in smallholder farming systems.
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What do we mean by ‘women’s crops’?

“Women’s crops” is a familiar feature in writing about smallholder agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara. Although not always easy to define, they generally refer to crops grown by women for home consumption rather than for sale. The growth of domestic and regional markets has opened new opportunities for commercializing these crops. This is good news for women – unless men muscle in and take control of the income, leaving women to do the work. This was the widely reported experience when the commercialization of rice occurred in the Gambia. We wanted to revisit this issue of gender and commercialization. What happens to women’s control when these crops find a market?


‘YOU’TH are the future of Agricultural development

500 delegates at the Third Global Conference of Agricultural Research and Development (GCARD3) in Johannesburg, South Africa, of 75 youth delegates and social reporters, who had come together from different corners of the world to learn social media tools and join deliberations with researchers on the future of agricultural development. In  the six-day social media bootcamp, which included three days of intense 12 hours/day classroom training and three days of live reporting from the global event. It was a great opportunity to learn new social media tools, the art of telling stories through the social media and exchange ideas with delegates from diverse backgrounds – researchers, farmers, students, women leaders, politicians and communication specialists.

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Sinking your teeth into sorghum rotis

Crop value is determined not just by grain produced per hectare but also by its nutritional content. Improving the nutrient density of staple crops can play a role in stamping out malnourishment that endangers the health and development of subsistent farming communities, especially among women and children in the semi-arid tropics.Recently, the SACSA (System analysis for climate smart agriculture, ICRISAT) team in collaboration with the NutriPlus Knowledge Program (NPK) of AIP-ICRISAT, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and WorldFish established a new research stream dedicated to investigating GxExM (Genotype X Environment X Management) interactions with sorghum grain and stover nutritional profiles.

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Our crops and croplands feed livestock

Can Africa’s growing demand for red meat be met by better utilizing cropland resources and the available feed/forage technologies produced in the mixed crop-livestock systems of the dry Semi-Arid Tropics? The answer came to me when I recently undertook an extended trip in southern Africa  where I visited farmer and National Agricultural Research Systems or NARS collaborators of ICRISAT scientists Martin Moyo in Zimbabwe and  Sabine Homann-Kee Tui in Mozambique.

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Creating a market for her - Innovation Platforms in Zimbabwe make it possible

Low reproductive rates, high mortality, poor condition and breeds of animals resulted in low market prices. Get to know of the strategies deployed that helped women sell their goats for a good price.

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Game for innovation - Women in India and Africa try out new technologies
Be it for a healthy snack for kids or preparation of eco-friendly bio-charcoal, introducing processing empowers women to find a market for innovative sorghum products.It started off a year and half ago when my friends and I were looking for business avenues the raw material directly from the farmers. 
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Sowing seeds of prosperity - A success story from Malawi

About 49% of seed producers in Malawi are female. The Phalula Women’s Group plays an important role in increasing certified legume seed supply in the country. Challenge - Farmers has limited access to improved high-yielding and fast-maturing varieties of groundnut and pigeonpea. 

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Smart Foods: Nutri-cereals for her - The creation of biofortified pearl millet

To combat anemia in women and children, scientists developed biofortified pearl millet high in iron and zinc, which has been adopted by Indian farmers. A fine example of the Lab-to-Land approach. India: Every second Indian woman is anemic and one in every five maternal deaths is directly due to anemia*. Pearl millet biofortification opens up the possibility of a cost-effective strategy to beat micronutrient malnutrition in women and children.

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Equal say is the key - Watershed projects in India & Africa show the way
Having 50% women on watershed committees in India has ensured that their concerns are addressed in decision making. It has also empowered them to have an equal say in community affairs. Adoption of a holistic community-based approach, created a voice and stake for the landless, poor and women taking it further than soil and moisture conservation and water harvesting interventions.
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Partnership for synergy - Promoting sorghum and pearl millet in the poultry feed industry

The area under sorghum is declining in India, China and Thailand due to several constraints on both production and marketing. Studies documented the constraints in sorghum farming in project areas (India, China and Thailand), and the major constraints found include (i) Availability and access to improved cultivar seeds and other inputs; (ii) Poor access to cost effective technologies to enhance production; (iii) Absence of farm advisory services to help farmers in taking farm level decisions; (iv) Inability to get timely credit from nationalized banks; and (v) Poor market linkages to industry.

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Collectively we prosper - Adoption of high yielding and wilt resistant pigeonpea in Tanzania and creating new markets

Until recently, pigeonpea was not an important crop in Tanzania, and the national agricultural research system and the government paid very little attention to varietal development and dissemination. The area occupied by pigeonpea was only 65,000 ha (2001-03) and farmers grew traditional long duration and low yielding varieties that are susceptible to pests (pod borers, pod fly, pod sucking bugs) and diseases (fusarium wilt). Small-seeded varieties failed to meet market requirements; market linkages were underdeveloped; and farmers could not access seed of improved varieties because of poor input and technology delivery systems.

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HOPE for the future - Sorghum and finger millet in HOPE Project, Tanzania

Agriculture, contributing to 25% of GDP and employing more than 75 percent of the population, is the mainstay of the economy in Tanzania and has potential to be a key driver of economic growth in the country. Nationally, the poverty level is estimated at 40%, with access to modern technologies cited as a constraint, as only 50% of the demand for improved seed and fertilizers are met. ICRISAT’s HOPE project on productivity and profitability improvement for sorghum and finger millet has project sites in five semi-arid districts of Tanzania namely, Kondoa, Singida Rural, Iramba, Kishapu and Rombo, with a combined population of about 1.5 m people.

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Taste of success - Agri-business Innovation Platform - India and Africa

In the globalized world, imports and exports are playing a major role in determining the economic growth of a country. Major economies of the world have been importing significant amounts of food and agricultural products from developing and under-developed countries. Although, this seems like a win-win situation, importing countries are only importing produce/products that meet the stringent safety norms set forth by their nations. Even developing and under-developed countries are placing a greater importance on the production of quality and safe food that is being either imported into their respective countries or exported from their countries.

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Leading the way to rural development in the Sahel

In the Sahelian countries of Africa, about 80% of the 100 million inhabitants live and work in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Poverty and vulnerability are severe in these areas, and in many cases are worsening for millions of people. Land degradation is one of the major causes of poverty and income inequalities in the Sahel. Other underlying factors are many – harsh climatic conditions, rapidly growing populations, prevalence of diseases and pests, poor development of infrastructure and markets, governance failures, conflicts, and more.

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Regaining ground for Malawis groundnut
Three decades of investment in groundnutresearch for development have moved smallholder farmers in Malawi from subsistence to inclusive market-oriented agriculture.
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Just a small dose will do

Inclusiveness is about bringing life-changing innovations to millions of smallholder farming families who have the biggest needs – techniques that are adapted to smallholder, resource-poor farmers. The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Dr Kanayo Nwanze, speaking at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week opening ceremony in Accra, Ghana, said “We have seen good results from a fertlizer microdosing Just a small dose will do Philip Tshuma and his family proudly show extension agents their sorghum and pearl millet fields with microdosing application. technique developed by ICRISAT and its partners, using a bottle cap system so farmers can measure out small, aff ordable amounts of fertilizer.” Dr Nwanze believes that there is huge potenƟ al to increase yields using low-cost and existing technologies.

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ICRISAT-HOPE sharply increases sorghum yields in Maharashtra, India

HOPE has become reality for 25,000 farmers in dryland Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of the state of Maharashtra, known as the ‘Sorghum Bowl of India’. Initial assessments indicate that their grain yields rose by 40% and fodder yields by 20% on average over the past three seasons (2010-2012) due to improved sorghum varieties and crop management practices, along with improved market linkages. About half of these farmers operate on a very small scale, with landholding size of two hectares or less. Net income (the income that farmers retain after their costs of cultivation are paid for) has increased by 50%, to an average of US$78 per hectare of sorghum grown.

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Shelling groundnuts made easier

ICRISAT’s strategy of inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) was in motion during a recent visit by a team from ICRISAT-Lilongwe and the Eastern Province Farmers’ Cooperative Ltd (EPFC) to Kabunda village to solicit farmers’ opinion on a groundnut shelling machine.

 

 
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Weather-proofing for a warmer world

Climate change predictions point to a warmer world within the next 50 years, a trend that is increasingly being supported by ‘on-the-ground’ measurements. However, the impact of rising temperatures on rainfall distribution patterns in the semi-arid tropics (SAT) of Africa and Asia remains far less certain.

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Orphan legume crops are NOT orphan anymore!

Legumes are the third largest family among flowering plants, accounting for 27% of the world’s crop production, with grain legumes (eg, beans, chickpea, groundnut, lentils, peas, peanut/groundnut) alone contributing 33% of the dietary protein needs of humans. Grain legumes are also a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals and important amino acids. Grain and forage legumes are grown on some 190 million hectares, and their production is about 300 million metric tons globally.

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Now healthy, wealthy and wise

Contrary to its exotic, holiday resort-sounding name, the Lakeshore District of Salima in Malawi has been home to poverty stricken farmers for decades. The district gets a paltry 300 mm average rainfall a year, people here are constantly faced with food insecurity, and malnourished children under the age of five are a common sight. The plights of the surrounding districts, Balaka, Chikwawa and Mangochi, are much the same.

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From relief to resilience

These days, life is a little bit easier for Emilia Marufu, a 41-year old widow living in Macharaga Village in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. In 2009/10 Marufu grew enough maize to feed herself and her two children. She also didn’t need to work in her neighbor’s fields to earn cash that would enable her to supplement what she grew with store-bought maize meal. In fact, Marufu used the extra time to work on her vegetable garden, which has now become her most important source of cash. “I’ve bought two goats with the money from my fields,” she says

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Stifling striga with stronger sorghum

Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is the 5th most important cereal crop worldwide. The plant is mainly cultivated in dryland areas of Africa and Asia, and also in the Americas. Average grain yields range from 800 kg ha-1 in Africa to 3400 kg ha-1 in America. Parasitic weeds of the genus Striga are the major biotic constraint to agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa. Striga hermonthica and Striga asiatica parasitize mainly cereals. Yield losses can, especially in the presence of additional drought stress, attain 100%. In comparison with chemical, mechanical and biological Striga control methods, the cultivation of crop cultivars resistant to Striga is of particular advantage to farmers, since it does not require specifi c investments in materials or labor.

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Commercialization of pigeonpea spells prosperity

Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) is one of the most important food crops grown in eastern and southern Africa. Farmers love this crop for many reasons – tolerance to drought, important source of protein for the family, vital source of scarce cash, and provider of fodder for livestock. Pigeonpea fi xes soil nitrogen, allowing the poor farmers to improve soil fertility without expensive chemical fertilizers. Farmers have evolved elaborate intercropping systems allowing them to plant pigeonpea with maize, sorghum and other cereals making it highly suited to semi-arid, low soil fertility areas.

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Managing blast in finger millet

Blast (Magnaporthe grisea), the most serious and widely spread disease of fi nger millet, affects the crop at all growth stages. It causes lesions and premature drying of young leaves. Blast can also affect the whole panicle or just a few fi ngers, preventing the grain from setting or causing the seeds to shrivel. Though farmers are aware of the disease and its impacts on fi nger millet productivity, none of them know of an effi cient coping strategy. The use of cultural (uprooting and burning infected plants) and chemical options to mitigate the effects of blast, though plausible, is limited by effi ciency and cost implications.

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Prospering with peas and peanuts

About 90% of the land in southern China is covered with mountains, which lack vegetative cover, leading to soil erosion and frequent landslides. Each year tons of topsoil and valuable nutrients are lost and such areas have become unfit for agriculture. This problem has bothered the Chinese Government for years, but with the introduction of two ICRISAT crops, pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.] and groundnut, (aka peanuts) [Arachis hypogaea (L.)], new signs of prosperity from agricultural lands are greatly evident in China.

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Managing Mother Earth in East and Central Africa

Agricultural research and development experiences in Asia, especially through the work of ICRISAT in India, can provide answers to most of the natural resource challenges being faced in East and Central Africa (ECA). ICRISAT in partnership with the Soil and Water Management Research Network (SWMnet) of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) is working towards exploiting this potential.

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Sorghum, a crop of substance

Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is the world’s fifth most important cereal crop by area after rice, wheat, maize and barley. A staple food crop in the semi-arid tropics of Africa, Asia and Latin America, its importance as a fodder and feed crop for livestock has steadily increased over the last two decades.

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Birds of a feather

In the late nineties, ICRISAT began looking into the integration of legumes into the rice/wheat systems of South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic Plains. While logistics were being worked out in Delhi, representatives of ICRISAT and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) realized they could benefit from each other’s help, and a successful collaboration was born.

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Old crops, new horizons

Drought has stalked southern Africa for a long time, and the biggest victims are invariably smallholder farmers. Working on nutrient-starved soils, with little access to modern technologies, markets or credit, they lived from season to season. Many aimed simply to feed their families, and in many years they failed. But things are changing, thanks to partnerships engendered by ICRISAT and implemented through the SADC/ICRISAT Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program (SMIP), which completes its activities this year.

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Of stalk and livestock

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and ICRISAT have an important common interest. ILRI studies ruminant livestock, which contribute to human welfare by providing food, draft power and manure. ICRISAT studies crop residues, which are consumed by livestock as fodder. It’s a marriage made in heaven – common ground for collaborative research. A multidisciplinary research team of scientists funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), ILRI and ICRISAT set out to identify genotypes of sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut that could be used to develop plants with greater biomass and nutritive value without sacrificing grain yield.

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Pigeonpea comes of age in East Africa

For years, we have talked about pigeonpea as an ‘emerging’ crop in East Africa. The news is that the crop is no longer emerging. It has arrived. Pigeonpea can no longer be considered an exotic or novel crop in the region – it has been there for too long. woody twigs are used as fuel and the residue as green manure. Pigeonpea is grown everywhere, virtually all of it of ICRISAT/ NARS origin. ICEAP 40 and ICEAP 53 are the varieties of choice.

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Chickpea the champion: charging ahead, changing lives

It’s incredible. For uncounted generations, farmers who till some of the world’s most productive soils have left land fallow for months after harvesting a single crop of rice. Between cropping seasons, they just waited for the next rains. Stupid? Lazy? Far from it. Few farmers are smarter and none work harder. But there was simply nothing they could do. The soil, once drained of the water that nourished their rice, became as hard as rock, totally impenetrable.

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Partnerships unlimited

Life is never easy for Africa’s smallholder farmers, even in normal years. And in times of crisis… But partnerships can conquer even the most formidable challenges. Consider the recent work in three countries, involving research institutes, NGOs, governments and local communities – specifically, ICRISAT, the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CARE International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Government of Mozambique and small-scale seed producers and traders.

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Poverty and the perch

Over half of Kenya’s rural population lives in extreme poverty. And the number of poor and malnourished people, particularly women and children, is increasing. Poverty alleviation programs are in place, but often ineffective. One reason: we lack information on livelihood options for the poor, and the role and impact of institutions in poor rural areas.

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Women make the difference

Not many people realize that women produce 80% of sub-0Saharan Africa’s food, and 60% of Asia’s. In many parts of Africa, children are increasingly dependent on women as more and more men migrate to cities or, worse, succumb to AIDS. ICRISAT emphasizes technologies that especially benefit women, both to promote greater social equality and to accelerate agricultural development.

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New partnerships: Working together the Grey to Green way

Without effective, efficient policies, institutions, and channels providing knowledge, technologies, inputs, and markets, agriculture cannot thrive. ICRISAT has been particularly active in helping developing countries innovate new institutional arrangements for more sustainable seed systems. Does seed bring relief? Relief seed following war, drought, and other calamities can sometimes do as much harm as good, id implemented with due care for quality and adaption of the varieties introduced. 

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Water: The essence that greens the grey

Without water, there is no agriculture - or life. Yet in the dry zones that form ICRISAT's mandate responsibility, drought occurs roughly two out of every five years. The scant rain often falls in short, intense bursts. Sadly, much of (40-70%) is lost as runoff, evaporation, or deep drainage before it can contribute to crop production or village reserves.

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Can 'down to earth' innovations keep hunger at bay in the Sahel?

Mali’s remarkable fertility (population will triple to reach 45 million by 2050) is said to be a great threat to the country’s food security and sovereignty. Three out of four Malians live on a farm and the remaining live in mushrooming Bamako and other cities. The climate is unpredictable and tough, bringing droughts, flash floods, not enough or too much rain, and often at the wrong time. Farming families complain of not having enough good land to cultivate. Yet the large stretches of Savannah along the road from Bamako to Segou hint at the room for expansion.

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La révolution numérique transforme lagriculture Africaine: est-ce que les plus petits vont en profiter? (French)

The Economist du 28 Février 2015 titre la planète des téléphones.  Les technologies mobiles sont devenues de plus en plus accessibles et le marché est exponentiel pousse d’ailleurs par les pays en voie de développement, et pas qu’en ville. La révolution numérique est en marche. En 2020, 80% de la population mondiale aura un smartphone, peut-être même avant, un mini-ordinateur personnel en poche avec donc accès à de nombreuses applications pour transformer leur vie pour le meilleur, et pour le pire. Transmettre les données est devenu très accessible, l’accès est disponible même dans les zones rurales reculées d’Afrique car les infrastructures sont plus simples à installer.

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ICRISAT breakthrough in groundnut DNA sequencing promises enhanced variants

A scientific breakthrough in the DNA sequencing of the groundnut promises development of improved varieties with enhanced traits, such as increased pod and oil yield, drought and heat tolerance, as well as greater disease resistance. A team of 51 scientists from 9 institutes in China, India, USA and Australia, including the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics ( ICRISAT ), have decoded the complete DNA sequencing of an ancestor of the groundnut, the diploid A-genome ( Arachis duranensis) .

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Global team cracks ancestor genome of groundnut

A scientific breakthrough on the DNA sequencing of the groundnut (also known as peanut) promises the development of improved groundnut varieties with enhanced traits such as increased pod and oil yield, drought and heat tolerance and greater disease resistance. A team of 51 scientists from 9 institutes in China, India, USA and Australia, including the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), have decoded the complete DNA sequencing of the ancestor of the groundnut, the diploid A-genome (Arachis duranensis). 

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Allergy-free peanuts a step closer as researchers identify genetic code

The decoding of peanut DNA has opened the door to improving crop yields and the possible eradication of peanut allergies, according to an international research team. The team, which includes scientists from the University of Western Australia, identified genes in peanuts that can be altered to increase productivity and nutritional value. That has potential to greatly improve the lives of farmers in developing nations, Professor Rajeev Varshney from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics said.

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Peanut genome insights may help design Hypoallergenic peanuts

An international team of researchers has identified genes in peanuts that, when altered, will be able to prevent an allergic response in humans. The findings, carried out by scientists from China, India, Australia and the US, including from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India, were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Peanuts are an important global food source and one the most economically important crops. They are grown in more than 100 countries, with approximately 42 million tons produced every year. However, around 220-250 million people worldwide suffer from food allergies, with peanuts being one of the most common allergens. 

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Finger millet becomes ICRISAT's mandate crop

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has made finger millet its mandate crop. Finger millet figured among the six small millets in the research portfolio of the institute. "Finger millet has always been within our mandate crops but we want to provide greater visibility to this nutri-cereal that offers so much to both small holders in the form of economic opportunity and to consumers (including farm families) in the form of improved nutrition," ICRISAT Director General David Bergvinson said in a statement.

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ICRISAT adds finger millet as its sixth mandate crop

City-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) today said finger millet, which figured among the six small millets in research portfolio of the institute, has been formally made its mandate crop. This is an important recognition for a crop which has been an integral part of ICRISAT's research portfolio, a release from ICRISAT said. "Finger millet has always been within our mandate crops but we want to provide greater visibility to this nutri-cereal that offers so much to both smallholders and consumers," ICRISAT Director General David Bergvinson said. 

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Guardian letters - Climate change and the continual demand for economic growth

We congratulate the leaders of our world on agreeing to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2C or, hopefully, 1.5C – a clear signal to transform our global economy to decrease emissions. We in the agricultural/scientific sectors have a key role in meeting this transformation by finding sustainable solutions to feeding the ever growing population, particularly in the dry tropics of Asia andAfrica. For example, new drought-tolerant varieties of chickpea planted by Ethiopian farmers will lift 0.7 million people out of poverty and have a positive environmental impact.

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Will a radical farming shift save drought-stricken Zimbabwe? A call for climate-smart action.

Zimbabwe’s slow recovery from years of economic depression has suffered a terrible blow from recurrent droughts halving the expected production of 742,000 tons of the main staple, maize, this year. It leaves 1.5 million Zimbabweans (16% of the population) without enough food to stay healthy, according to the UN World Food Programme. To make matters worse, because of the ongoing El Niño, meteorologists are predicting the upcoming cropping season to be further marred by below normal seasonal rains in the semi-arid southern region of Zimbabwe (FEWS). The Southern Africa Development Community has announced that over 27 million people across the Southern African region will face hunger over the next six months.

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The hidden side of climate change

When people talk about climate change, images of disastrous droughts and scorched crop fields come to mind. Yet, climate change is not only about extreme weather. As ICRISAT’s principal scientist Vincent Vadez explains, moderate temperature increases induce many negative effects on what a plant will yield. A warmer climate means plants grow faster but this “early maturity” could mean less biomass and less grain. 

 
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New campaign to promote traditional Kenyan food
From sorghum pilau, to millet ugali and groundnut uji, there is no shortage of tantalising dishes that can be made from these nutritious crops. But many Kenyans do not consume them regularly, until they are in poor health and the doctor advises them to do so. A new Sh470 million campaign now seeks to return these “traditional foods” like sorghum, millet, pigeon peas and groundnuts back to dinner tables. Dr Moses Siambi, Eastern and Southern Africa director for International Crop Research Institute for the semi-arid tropics (Icrisat), an international research centre says the ‘big three’ crops, namely, maize, wheat and rice are locally and globally dominant in terms of research, consumption, infrastructure and trade. He however adds that sorghum, millet and legumes have limited investments, and are perceived to be for the poor.
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Information and communication innovations in East Africa

In recent years, Tanzania and Malawi have seen changes to their agricultural potential. Tanzania, previously considered the breadbasket of Rhodesia, has experienced reductions in coffee and maize as a result of droughts, flooding, and overall erratic rainfall. Malawi also saw decreases in crop yields due to changes in rainfall patterns and a lack of access to critical inputs like fertilizer. As climate projections suggest that this trend toward extreme events will likely continue, people at the local, national, and international levels are looking for effective ways to improve the region’s food security. 

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Malawi's young farmers: 'Village life has to become more attractive'

“I’m 21, and look at me: I’m self-reliant, I buy my own clothes, go to the salon for my hair and I’m a farmer.” Juliette Harawa is proud to live in her village Ntchenachena in Rumphi, north Malawi, despite the hard to navigate bumpy mud track to get to it. Like many other rural young men and women, she had rushed to town hoping for a job and steady income. Disillusioned, she returned home and joined the local farmer’s club and women’s agribusiness group Njati.

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Could pigeonpea be a life changer for Malawis drought-stricken farmers?
In Chambogho in Karonga district in North Malawi, 31-year-old John Msuku and his family insist pigeonpea has transformed their lives. When John first left school, he rushed to the southern city Blantyre to find a ‘proper job’. “My parents wanted me to stay and make a living out of fishing like them. But they had always struggled and I wanted a career where I would not be poor.” Like so many other young people craving the urban dream, John failed to secure a steady income in town. 
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As drought destroys maize, Zimbabwe tries out new staples
JAMBEZI, Zimbabwe, Sept 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For more than 20 years, Dalarex Ncube grew maize in arid Jambezi District, one of Zimbabwe's driest regions, and his family ate maize porridge, the national staple. But seven years ago, he began switching to growing sorghum and millet - both more tolerant of drought - for food and to sell. At first, the switch wasn't easy for his children, who "hated it", he remembers. But "my children now enjoy the mealie-meal (porridge) from sorghum more than maize... because I have told them about the nutritive value of sorghum", he said in an interview.
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Regreening Ethiopian highlands, step by step

At 3,500 meters above sea level, the Yewol watershed in the Northern Ethiopian Highlands offers stunning mountainous landscape but harsh conditions for farming. “Four years ago, this land was a disaster; I could barely grow my barley. Our fields were feeding the Nile down in the valley” says Ali Ahmed, a farmer living in the watershed whose farm soils were being eroded away. 

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Demand-driven innovation is our priority, says ICRISAT D-G

The International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been focusing on crop varieties that are drought and disease-resistant. David J. Bergvinson, who took over as its Director-General in January, spoke to The Hindu about various challenges that lie ahead for the institute. Excerpts from the interview:

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Small grains produce big gains for farmers

Every season produces only scorched maize fields with little or no returns despite all the effort and hard work. Inconsistent rainfall patterns and arid conditions lead to the perennial flop of maize production in the area. Despite the evidently dismal performance of the maize crop, most farmers like Sibanda have, for years, ignored and fiercely resisted agricultural and climate change advice to them to plant small grains.

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Seed production boosts economy

Malawi has registered tremendous economic improvement according to a research conducted in 2014 by International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (Icrisat).  This was disclosed on Saturday when Ambassador of Ireland to Malawi Aine Hearns inaugurated a seed warehouse and a seed management information system at ICRISAT premises at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe.

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Orphan crop turns saviour

Sorghum is one of the most important cereal crops in arid areas though largely underutilised.  In Kenya, sorghum is grown in the drought-prone marginal agricultural areas of Eastern, Nyanza and Coast regions. The crop—one of the orphan crops can be an alternative staple food in hunger-stricken areas and ensure food security in the drought-prone regions of the country.  But despite its suitability in the semi-arid areas, the area under sorghum production is still low with minimal yields, especially in Eastern Kenya.

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Nkayi farmers resort to fodder crops

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in 2013 introduced nutritious cattle-feeding legumes to the farmers. The new fodder crops have come as a major relief and boost to most farmers in the district as drought conditions have greatly reduced the availability of livestock forage - especially during the summer period. “This year, I planted a hectare each of Mucyna and Sunhemp cattle feed crop. From my own calculations, this crop is enough to feed my cattle and goat herd throughout the year. In order to save the fodder, I mix it with other indigenous fodder species such as Kachnar and bamboo,” said Nqobizitha Masina, a farmer in ward 17, in a recent interview.

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ICRISAT donates pigeon pea seed to Malawi govt

The Malawi government has received 10 tonnes of pigeon pea seed to be distributed to about 2,000 farmers whose crops were damaged by the recent floods.

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Go for sorghum, say climate-smart Kenyan farmers

Sorghum assures us of nutritious food for our families as well as cattle; sorghum fetches a better price than maize and gives more yield per acre. Sorghum has changed our lives for the better… say farmers in Wote, eastern Kenya, who have adopted sorghum-legume technologies instead of the traditional maize-bean intercrop. The farmers were addressing a group of journalists who visited their farms recently.

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Crop scientists search for better sorghum variety

Top crop scientists and researchers from Kenya and Tanzania are trying to establish a sustainable sorghum crop capable of multiple uses. The objective is to support the development of new sorghum multi-purpose varieties that are higher yielding and adapted to both biotic and abiotic (insects and diseases) stresses in the arid and semi-arid agro ecologies of eastern Kenya and in the northern and central zones of Tanzania. Researchers from the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Africa Harvest Biotechnology International Foundation (Africa Harvest) have brought together key collaborators and partners to review the project and plan the way forward.

 

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William Dar advocates easier access to published research

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson spoke of “an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind that it may, at length, reach even the extremes of society: beggars and kings”. He spoke at a time when only a tiny elite had access to education. Yet today, despite the spread of universities, digital libraries and internet access in the developing world, research is not easily available. Among the culprits is academic publishing.

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Evas endeavours: a professional path in plant science inspired by Norman Borlaug

Learning about the work of Nobel laureate, Norman Borlaug, in high school inspired Eva Weltzien to become a plant breeder so she too could contribute to improving the living conditions in the developing world. Today, Eva is a Principal Scientist in sorghum breeding and genetic resources at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Mali.

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How to prevent aflatoxin contamination

Aflatoxins are a threat to both human and animal health. And they can result in considerable economic losses. At the CGIAR Science Forum 2013, experts exchanged views on strategies to combat the spread of this fungal poison.

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(Audio) BBC Radio report on Africa Food Security (04:35min)

2014 was declared the African year of Agriculture and Food security. So after the declaration, do you know what your country is doing to keep off hunger? Scientist from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics are already carrying out research to improve the yield and drought resistance in certain crops. The BBC’s Frenny Jowi visited a group of farmers in Busia, Western Kenya who are leading in adopting growing alternative crops such as finger millet, sorghum and cassava to keep their silos and stomachs full all year round.

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Conservation agriculture puts Zimbabwean farmers on firmer footing

When Elizabeth Msimanga, a farmer in Zimbabwe’s Nkayi District, walks on her farmland, her feet make the sound “vuchu vuchu” as they sink into the soil. But on one plot of 82 by 75 metres, where she practices conservation agriculture, she says she has no problems.

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Tanzania's government signs off on sorghum

Sorghum has the potential to significantly improve food security and the incomes of smallholder subsistence farmers, especially those that live in dry areas where maize production has dropped due to low rainfall. In Tanzania, sorghum is grown in areas with marginal annual rainfall, such as the central, northern, southern and lake zones.

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Markets: From research to outcomes

Ten years ago, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) started a series of “Innovation Platforms” in different parts of Zimbabwe. Each platform consists of a group of farmers, traders, rural development agencies and extension officers, all of whom meet at regular intervals to discuss the main challenges facing them. These results are clearer in Gwanda, where different stakeholders have been working together for the last six years. 

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Test Tropical Legumes II - Profiles of progress

Temegnush Dhabi’s two-hectare farm in East Shewa in central Ethiopia looks very different today than it did three years ago. Back then, she grew mostly teff, a popular type of cereal grown in Ethiopia. Teff fetched a reasonable price at market, but demanded hard labor and expensive fertilizer.

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Small seed packets could play big role in Africa's battle against drought

As the world considers long-term solutions to mitigate the impact of the next drought, drought-resistant crops are often mentioned as part of the solution. The concept has been around for years. In 2000, a UN taskforce on food security in the Horn of Africa highlighted the need for farmers to adopt drought-tolerant crop varieties. The Food and Agriculture Organisation talks about improving dryland crop production to build resilience, so the issue is to turn these ideas into reality.

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Regaining ground for Malawi's groundnuts

Grown in Malawi, and sold on the shelves of the UK's biggest supermarket chains, Liberation peanuts - the world's first Fairtrade peanuts - are a testament to the power of cooperation. Once a major global supplier of peanuts, or groundnuts, as the crop is known in much of Africa, Malawi lost its market in the 1970s because of high levels of aflatoxin contamination. 

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More crop per drop

Irrigated agriculture has long been synonymous with high productivity, the 20 per cent of farmland that is irrigated producing 40 per cent of current food supply. But, surprisingly perhaps, the greatest potential for meeting further burgeoning food demand lies in rain-fed agriculture. Low-cost technologies that allow judicious supplemental irrigation to bridge dry spells include treadle pumps, trickle and seep-hose systems; these offer yield increases of 100 per cent from rain-fed agriculture whereas, according to Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), it will be difficult to achieve more than a 10-15 per cent increase from large-scale flood or sprinkler systems, even if extra water is available. 

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Agriculture de conservation au Sud (French)

Ma réponse est OUI mais cela nécessite adaptation en fonction des ressources à disposition et de la situation agroécologique. Des techniques appropriées et souvent faciles à mettre en oeuvre permettent vraiment de transformer les paysages agraires.

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Climate conversations - How can predictions help farmers cope with climate change?

Droughts are becoming more frequent, particularly in regions where smallholder farmers are already struggling to get good harvests and grow enough for their family’s needs. Last year the drought in East Africa hit the headlines with its heavy toll on human lives. Now it is the Sahel region that’s suffering.

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ICRISAT rededicates itself to the vision of the World Food Day

"We have come a long way since the days of large-scale famines in Asia. But ICRISAT's challenge to help developing countries reduce hunger and environmental degradation in the semi-arid tropics remains as urgent as ever in the new millennium," said Dr. William D. Dar, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in the context of the World Food Day.

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"Rainwater-use efficiency can be increased up to 70 percent" -- ICRISAT

"Twenty-seven years of research at ICRISAT shows that rainwater-use efficiency can be increased up to 70 percent if rainwater is managed properly by adopting an integrated watershed management approach", said Dr William D Dar, Director General, ICRISAT, at ICRISAT-Patancheru today.

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For a food-secure future

THREE DECADES ago, a major food shortage which experts predicted to lead to catastrophic famines was experienced all over the world. But a group of public and private development agencies networked and averted the danger.

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ICRISAT signs MOU with the International Water Management Institute

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to initiate cooperative activities in natural resou rce management and policy research on water resources was signed between the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on 29 September 2000 at ICRISAT, Patancheru.

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ICRISAT inaugurates containment glasshouse for transgenic plants

"It is only with new science that ICRISAT can address the urgent need for more food for the poor of the world" said Dr Ragnhild Sohlberg, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board. She was inaugurating the new Transgenic Plants Containment Glasshouse at the ICRISAT-Patancheru Campus today.

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Legislators praise ICRISAT

''Our new agenda is science with a human face for improving the livelihood of the 300 million poor inhabiting the semi-arid tropics (SAT) across the globe,'' said Dr. William D. Dar, new Director-General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Patancheru near Hyderabad.

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Providing science a human face

"Our new agenda is science with a human face for improving the livelihood of the 300 million poor inhabiting the semi-arid tropics (SAT) across the globe,'' said Dr. William D. Dar, new Director-General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Patancheru near Hyderabad.

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ICRISAT combats desertification and drought

June 17 is World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. Recognizing this, Dr William Dar, ICRISAT Director General, urged the Institute to "take stock of where we stand in this battle against desertification, and rededicate our energies to solving this grave problem".

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Bringing the green revolution to the dry central regions of India: The power of ICAR-ICRISAT partnership

"The collaboration between India and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is helping to extend steadily the Green Revolution to the poor of the dry central regions of the country who had been bypassed the first time," said Dr. William D. Dar, ICRISAT Director General, during the India-ICRISAT Day Celebration at Patancheru on 15 November 2000.

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ICRISAT DG meets new Chairman of CGIAR

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is an informal association of 58 public and private members that support a network of sixteen international centers, of which ICRISAT is one.

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ICRISAT strengthens partnerships with the private and public sectors

Traditionally used for food, especially in rural semi-arid tropics, sorghum and pearl millet have a great potential for industrial uses: poultry feed, snacks, or alcoholic beverages. This was one of the themes that were highlighted in the 4-day Field Day events (12-13 September for Pearl Millet and 14-15 September for Sorghum) organized at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

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ICRISAT's drought research: Hope that never dries up

Drought avoiding crops. For farmers in Gottipadu village, near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, 1999 was a particularly harsh year: there were no rains at all after 21 October that year. In spite of this severe drought, farmers got as much as 1.7 tonnes per hectare that season.

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Former ICRISAT Board Chair honored by the Queen of England

Professor Eric H Roberts, who was a Governing Board Member of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 1989 to 1996 and its Board Chairman from 1992-1996, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 16 June 2000, in the UK.

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A role in the life of the poor

From his Danuman West village in the Philippines' Iloco Sur province, little William had to walk two kilometres every day to his elementary school. Since his parents could not afford to educate him further, he did odd jobs to be able to pay for his college fee. He completed his studies, thanks mainly to the scholarships he picked up.

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OU-ICRISAT bag AP-Netherlands biotech project

Osmania University, Hyderabad, and ICRISAT have bagged a Rs 9.05 lakh (US$ 20,500) proposal to study pest resistance in pigeonpea. The project will be funded by the AP-Netherlands Biotechnology Program, through its Coordinating Agency, Institute of Public Enterprise, Hyderabad.

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World Bank Vice President Ian Johnson to lead CGIAR

Ian Johnson, World Bank Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development has been named Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). He succeeds Ismail Serageldin, who led the CGIAR from 1994 until July 10, 2000.

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ICRISAT's first Director General of the new millennium emphasizes the human face of agricultural research

Dr William D Dar, the new Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), urged the Institute to keep in mind that its real mission goes far beyond that of "producing quality and cutting-edge science.

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Developing a road map to the future of the Semi-Arid Tropics

A delegation of Karnataka State Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Committee on Public Accounts described ICRISAT's work as "wonderful" and "a boon to farmers", on their visit to the Institute on 5 August 2000. The 14-member delegation had come to Hyderabad specifically to visit ICRISAT and get a first hand-view of its research activities.

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ICRISAT lead center for ICAR project on natural resources management

The collaborative research proposal "Identifying systems for carbon sequestration and increased productivity in semi-arid tropical environments" with ICRISAT as the lead center, recently qualified for implementation under the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) of the Government of India. Dr S P Wani, ICRISAT Senior Scientist, will be the Prinicipal Investigator of the Project.

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Dr Jill Lenné joins ICRISAT as Deputy Director General-Research

Dr Jill M Lenné, an Australian, who was appointed as ICRISAT's Deputy Director General in May this year, arrived at Patancheru (ICRISAT Headquarters) on 28 August 2000 to start work in her official capacity. She was formally welcomed to the Institute at a lunch hosted by Director General Dr William Dar.

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Ms Martha B Stone is the Chair of the ICRISAT Governing Board, effective 13 March 2001

She takes over from Dr. Ragnhild Sohlberg. Ms. Stone, a Canadian national, has been on the ICRISAT Board since 1996. Hitherto, she has headed the Technology Exchange Committee and the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board.

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Eritrea Agriculture Minister visits ICRISAT

His Excellency Mr Arefaine Berha, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture of Eritrea, visit ed the ICRISAT-Patancheru campus on Thursday 28 June 2001. He was accompanied by the Honourable Ambassador of Eritrea to China and India as well as senior agricultural officials from Eritrea.

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Private sector invests in public plant breeding research at ICRISAT

Alarmed by continuing declines in Western assistance to the developing countries for agricultural research, a coalition of small and large seed enterprises in India is helping to fill the breach. Fourteen companies have pledged $109,000 annually to help support applied plant breeding research at ICRISAT for five years.

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ICRISAT and its partners make important advances in developing the world's first molecular marker map of chickpea

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based at Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, in partnership with Washington State University, USA, has made important advances in developing the world's first useful molecular marker-based linkage map for chickpea, using morphological and DNA markers.

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ICRISAT's first Director, Ralph Cummings, passes away

"ICRISAT is determined... to become truly a world center of excellence... [to] bring about a revolution in improved levels and dependability of production of major food crops of the semi-arid, seasonally dry, rainfed tropical regions of the world...." This was the manifesto launched by Dr Ralph W. Cummings, ICRISAT's first Director, whose passing away we mark this week.

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APAARI sets Asian research agenda

The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) today concluded an important strategy meeting on ‘Agricultural Research Priorities for South and West Asia'. The Executive Secretary of APAARI, a high-level association of agricultural policymakers in the Asia region, is Dr RS Paroda, Secretary to the Government of India, DARE, and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

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World climate expert visits ICRISAT

Presenting a report on Climate Change to ICRISAT staff on 12 February, Dr D James Baker, the author of the thought-provoking book "Planet Earth - The View from Space" said that in the last 100 years, global average surface temperatures have risen by 0.4 to 0.8°C.

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World Bank Vice President commends ICRISAT's close working relationship with research and development partners

After a very busy schedule of visits to facilities at the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), ICRISAT, and the Kothapally watersheds on 10 and 11 February 2001, Mr. Ian Johnson, World Bank Vice President and Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) said, “What I saw at ICRISAT was really very encouraging.

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Chickpea collaborative research fruitful: ICRISAT DG

"India grows 70 per cent of the world's chickpea (chana in Hindi), and any progress we achieve together to improve this crop will benefit a large section of farmers and consumers not only in this country but also in South Asia, and worldwide," declared Dr William D Dar, ICRISAT Director General, inaugurating a two-day ICAR-ICRISAT Chickpea Breeders' Meet at ICRISAT-Patancheru today.

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ICRISAT Signs an MOU with NCPGR

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, and India's National Centre for Plant Genome Research (NCPGR), located at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Campus, New Delhi, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) to implement a collaborative project on "Molecular marker development, tagging of chickpea genotypes against abiotic stresses and cloning of R gene against fusarium wilt."

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ICRISAT takes stock of Intellectual Property Assets

Considering the emerging challenges and issues of semi-arid tropics, and the changing agricultural research environment, there is a need to strengthen ICRISAT's position in the area of Intellectual Property (IP) management in line with ICRISAT's vision and strategy.

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Combining technologies to reach the poor

For the last 30 years, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has used a combination of high and appropriate technologies to increase agricultural productivity in the driest and poorest farmlands in Asia and Africa.

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ICRISAT passes external review with flying colors

The External Management Review Panel, which recently reviewed the management and operations of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has given the Institute a strong rating. “The Center has endured trying times,” is the succinct comment of the Panel.

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Scientists' meet on chickpea

The second biennial meet on chickpea research, jointly organised by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will be held at ICRISAT's Patancheru campus on January 16 and 17.

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Another global first from ICRISAT: Transgenic pigeonpea resistant to pod borer

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has achieved another global first in agricultural research. Field trials have been launched for genetically modified pigeonpea that is resistant to the insect pest, the legume pod borer or Helicoverpa armigera.

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ICRISAT explores agri-biotech partnerships with Canadians

Scientists from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) explored the possibilities of collaborating on agri-biotechnology with a Canadian delegation of scientists and policy makers.

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ICRISAT scientist wins CGIAR Young Scientist Award

Dr Jonathan H Crouch, the Biotechnology Global Theme Leader for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has won the Promising Young Scientist Award for 2003 from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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ICRISAT dialogues with parliamentarians, industrialists and farmers

At a meeting with 15 Members of Parliament, industrialists and farmer groups, Dr William D Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), discussed ways of enhancing the impact of the work done by the institute in India.

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ICRISAT to maintain its headquarters in India

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will continue to maintain its headquarters at Patancheru in India, while enhancing its research activities and impact in sub-Saharan Africa. This was decided at the Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) held at Nairobi, Kenya, in the last week of October.

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ICRISAT DG is Future Harvest Foundation Chairman

Dr William D Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has been elected the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Future Harvest Foundation (FHF).

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ICRISAT signs MOU with US National Academy of Sciences

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for free sharing of electronic publications, especially for the Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT).

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ICRISAT Director General to lead global alliance of agricultural research centers

Another feather has been added to the cap of Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). He has been nominated the incoming Chair of a collective body of leaders, the Alliance of Future Harvest Centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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Encouraging crop diversification through medicinal and aromatic plants

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has further strengthened the concept of diversification of the rainfed agriculture system by commissioning a demonstration-cum-training unit for distilling the active ingredients from medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) at its campus at Patancheru.

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ICRISAT and World Bank to collaborate on new strategy

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the World Bank will collaborate to implement the Bank's new agriculture and rural development strategy, designed to meet the goal of poverty alleviation through agricultural growth.

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ICRISAT initiates e-network on agri-biotechnology

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is initiating an electronic discussion network on agri-biotechnology. This initiative was announced at a recently held Media Workshop on Agri-Biotechnology –Covering agricultural biotechnology: Issues and opportunities for the news media.

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Strengthening NRM to combat desertification

On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought today, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) decided to strengthen its natural resources management (NRM) activities in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICRISAT celebrates bountiful harvest in 2004

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is celebrating the strength of teamwork, partnership and a rededicated future strategy during the 32 nd Annual Day celebrations being held at Patancheru from 13 to 15 December.

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ICRISAT DG gets second term

Dr William D Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has been given a new five-year term of office starting 1 January 2005. The decision was made at the 50th meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board, held at ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, near Hyderabad, India, which ended on 29 April.

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ICRISAT launches Strategy 2010

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has launched Strategy 2010 to strengthen research and research delivery to improve agricultural production and livelihoods in the dryland areas of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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International networks bridge relief-development gap

In a recently released study, the Future Harvest Foundation and CARE have shown that through efficient agricultural and natural resource management international agricultural research centers and relief organizations have managed to bridge the gap between development and relief.

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ICRISAT renews its focus in Asia and Africa

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has initiated programs to strengthen its position as the center of excellence for biotechnology and crop improvement for Asia, and for integrated genetic and natural resources management in sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICRISAT signs MOU with Sun Microsystems

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sun Microsystems Inc. to develop a Center of Excellence to promote e-learning under the umbrella of the Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT).

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ICRISAT and Indian germplasm research – A win-win in helping the rural poor

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the national agricultural research system (NARS) of India share an effective and fruitful relationship on germplasm exchange.

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Effective leadership turns ICRISAT around

It was the late 1990s: a turbulent time for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). A financial slump, low staff morale, unfocussed research objectives, donor fatigue, and an unusual turnover in its Board and senior management plagued the once prestigious research center. The center was going through difficult times.

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Collaborating on IT for rural development

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will collaborate with the Telecommunications and Computer Networking (TeNeT) Group of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) to establish a new system to gather weather data from the rural India and provide agricultural advisories to dryland farmers.

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Japanese Ambassador to visit ICRISAT

The Japanese Ambassador to India, His Excellency Yasukuni Enoki, will be Chief Guest at the 32nd Annual Day of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), to be celebrated between 13 and 15 December.

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ICRISAT wins awards at Mexico

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) continued its winning streak this year by bagging two awards at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), held at Mexico City between 25 and 29 October.

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ICRISAT Ventures into Social Marketing

ICRISAT, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, is making a concerted effort to initiate social marketing strategies to: (1) Attract funds from the development investors, (2) Tap the private sectors and other non-traditional funding sources, and (3) Become financially self-sustaining by using its infrastructure and knowledge base.

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ICRISAT's new vision: Agricultural research for impact

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid tropics (ICRISAT) has a direct focus on the world's poorest people. The 'SAT' part of the institute's acronym is significant. The semi-arid tropics of the world are home to 38% of all poor people living in developing countries.

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ICRISAT ventures into social marketing

ICRISAT, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, is making a concerted effort to initiate social marketing strategies to: (1) Attract funds from the development investors, (2) Tap the private sectors and other non-traditional funding sources, and (3) Become financially self-sustaining by using its infrastructure and knowledge base.

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Poisoned groundnut - handle with care

A group of poisonous fungi could become a severe threat to India's groundnut industry unless appropriate steps are taken. This was the view of experts attending an international conference on aflatoxins infection in groundnuts, being held at ICRISAT, Hyderabad.

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Golden millet, naturally!

An exciting finding has revealed that some of ICRISAT's pearl millet genotypes with yellow endosperm appear to have beta-carotene levels comparable to those of "Golden Rice".

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Dealing with drought

Water is vital for agriculture. In the semi-arid tropics, where agriculture is predominantly rainfed and drought a recurring phenomenon, efficient water management practices like effective watersheds are becoming integral government policy.

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Aflatoxin: A deadly hazard

Aflatoxins cause cancer and trigger mutations, especially to genes involved in the production of liver cancer. They are also immunosuppressive, which means, like HIV, they make you susceptible to other health disorders.

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Technological breakthrough to produce disease-resistant chickpea

Scientists at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have succeeded in obtaining healthy hybrids of chickpea by crossing a cultivated variety, Cicer arietinum, with the wild species Cicer bijugum.

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Rebuilding agriculture to help communities cope with natural disasters and conflicts

Restoring agriculture is a critical first step in helping developing countries recover from natural disasters and conflicts. Though the ‘Healing Wounds' initiative, the 15 international agricultural research institutes under the Alliance of the Future Harvest Centers of the CGIAR (the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) are helping to rehabilitate agriculture in 47 developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.

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ICRISAT Director General meets World Bank President

The Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Dr William Dar met the President of the World Bank, Mr Paul Wolfowitz, on 18 August, at Hyderabad. Dr Dar, who is also the Chair of the Alliance Executive of the Future Harvest Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), thanked Mr Wolfowitz for the World Bank support to the CGIAR and ICRISAT.

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An Alliance of Centers helps world's poor farmers

When it comes to research for improving agricultural productivity to improve the livelihoods of the poor farmers, there is tremendous strength in the collective action of 15 international agricultural research centers.

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Indian aquaculturalist named winner of the 2005 World Food Prize

An Indian scientist, Dr Modadugu Vijay Gupta, has been named winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize for his work to enhance nutrition for over one million people, mostly very poor women, through the expansion of aquaculture and fish farming in South and Southeast Asia, and Africa.

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CGIAR Centers strengthen collective action and partnerships

The Alliance of Future Harvest Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a new initiative to further energize synergies among 15 international agricultural research institutes, is focusing on strengthening partnerships with civil society organizations and the private sector.

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ICRISAT strengthens research in sub-Saharan Africa

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is strengthening its research activities in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), even while retaining its focus on biotechnology and crop improvement in Asia.

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Dealing with natural disasters through preparedness

No community has control over natural disasters, but preparedness can help mitigate the adverse impacts. Working in collaboration with partners, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is blending disaster relief into sustainable agriculture development programs, using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance disaster preparedness of communities.

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Entebbe meeting to develop joint medium-term sub-regional plans for Africa

The international agricultural research institutes under the Alliance of Future Harvest Centers of the CGIAR are meeting jointly with the leaders of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at Entebbe, Uganda, on 8 June, to accelerate dialogue with partners to develop joint Medium Term Plans (MTPs) for West and Central Africa (WCA) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).

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First international conference on indigenous vegetables and legumes next week

For the first time an International Conference on Indigenous Vegetables and Legumes is being jointly organized by AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bioversity International, the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the Global Horticulture Initiative, at ICRISAT's Patancheru campus from 12 to 15 December.

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Small fertilizer doses yield big impact in sub-Saharan Africa

Less can have more impact if appropriate fertilizer is applied to the crops at the right time, in the right quantity, at the right spot. In sub-Saharan African countries, the fertilizer microdosing technique developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and partners is helping farmers to increase agricultural productivity.

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Global initiatives to combat drought and desertification

For more than 35 years, the Alliance of Future Harvest Centers of the CGIAR and their partners have been globally mobilizing science to combat drought and desertification. Working towards international public goods, CGIAR scientists and partners have been developing a range of agricultural and institutional innovations that address the multifaceted challenges posed by drought and desertification.

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ICRISAT and University of Florida launch partnership for flexible online courses

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the University of Florida (UFl) at Gainesville, Florida, USA, launched a partnership with a short course on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in land resource management for practicing professionals, extension officers and students.

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ICRISAT consortium's watershed projects improve farmers' income

The watershed development program of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and consortium of partners is reaching out to the world as a model of integrated genetic and natural resource management (IGNRM).

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CGIAR research vital for achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Science-based agricultural research being carried out by the 15 international agricultural research centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is the backbone of the international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing global poverty by half by 2015.

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ICRISAT maps out vision and strategy to 2015

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has mapped out a new vision and strategy to 2015 for the improved well-being of the poor of the semi-arid tropics (SAT) in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICRISAT and partners launch initiative on open access information on agricultural research

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, has launched an initiative to promote open access information sources in agricultural sciences and technology in India.

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ICRISAT honors FAO Director General

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) conferred the ‘Distinguished Fellow of ICRISAT' title on Dr Jacques Diouf, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), at a function held at the ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru on 4 January. Dr Diouf is the first Director General of FAO to visit ICRISAT.

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ICRISAT to host international virology symposium

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Indian Virological Society (IVS) are conducting an international symposium on management of vector-borne viruses from 7 to 10 February at ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru. The meeting has specific-focus on disease occurring in semi-arid tropics (SAT).

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ICRISAT strengthens partnerships with the private sector

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has strengthened its partnerships with the private sector through its recent understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to work together on improved natural resource management for sustainable rural development.

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New low-cost technology counters widespread Aflatoxin food poisoning, increases agricultural exports

LILIONGWE, MALAWI (26 July 2007)—African farmers and agriculture enterprises now have a fast and inexpensive way to detect and manage a costly, naturally occurring and potentially deadly poison (aflatoxin) that infects their crops via a common fungus that makes them unfit for consumption or export.

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Increasing crop legume productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Developing improved varieties and production technologies that can provide higher and stable yields is crucial for increasing the productivity of crop legumes in Asia and Africa. However, the responsibility of the agricultural research institutes and the development agencies working to increase the productivity does not end here, said Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

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ICRISAT hybrid pigeonpea to trigger pulse revolution

Stagnant production and soaring prices of pigeonpea (red gram) has been a matter of concern in the countries where the pulse crop is consumed. A new hybrid pigeonpea technology, developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and partners is capable of substantially increasing the productivity of red gram, offers a hope of pulse revolution in India and other developing countries.

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Dealing with climate change with cutting-edge agricultural research

Climate change is expected to affect developing countries more adversely in the initial decades. For the international agricultural scientists working to improve agricultural productivity in these developing countries, climate change adds a new dimension to their research. They are seeking answers on how to climate-proof their mandate crops.

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ICRISAT to celebrate 35th Annual Day and host Climate Change Symposium

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is organizing its 35 th Annual Day celebrations between 21 and 24 November at its global headquarters at Patancheru.The theme for the 35th year celebrations is: ICRISAT at 35: Innovation, Institutions, Information and Impact.

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Climate change and desertification put one billion poor people at risk

There are one billion poor people in the world who are vulnerable to climate change, desertification, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and shortage of fossil fuels. India alone accounts for 25.93% of this population and China 16.66%.

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ICRISAT rated outstanding among CGIAR Centers

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been rated ‘Outstanding' for its performance in 2006 among the 15 international agricultural research centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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Legumes step into the limelight in the tropics

Laden with nutrients and with a high commercial potential, legumes hold great promise for fighting hunger, increasing income and improving soil fertility. However, legumes thus far have not received the scientific or funding attention needed to increase crop yields of smallholder farmers’ in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, enhance their food security and reduce poverty.

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ICRISAT promotes pro-poor biofuels initiative

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is linking the poor and marginal farmers of the drylands of the developing countries with the global biofuels revolution without compromising on food security. ICRISAT's innovative research on ethanol for biofuel from sweet sorghum and biodiesel from pongamia and jatrophacrops, is not only ensuring energy, livelihood and food security to the dryland farmers, but also reducing the use of fossil fuel, which in turn can help in mitigating climate change.

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ICRISAT strengthens collaboration with Ethiopia

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has a longstanding partnership and collaboration with Ethiopia to improve the productivity of agriculture and sustainability of livelihoods in the drier and drought-prone areas.

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ICRISAT incubates agri-business projects in Mozambique

After establishing a successful Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at its global headquarters at Patancheru, India, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is initiating a similar incubator in Mozambique, in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM). Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, and Dr Calisto Bias, Director General of IIAM, signed the Letter of Intent for establishing the Farm Business Incubator in Mozambique.

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Cutting edge science helps the poor overcome soaring food prices

The poorest of the poor, especially those in the drylands, are hardest hit by soaring food prices. Even as the urban poor are the most vulnerable, the rural poor also suffer since most of them are net buyers of food.

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ICRISAT creates impacts in Africa

Farmers in eastern and southern Africa (ESA) were growing pigeonpea that gave low yields, took very long to mature, were susceptible to wilt and often suffered from terminal drought stress.

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ICRISATs germplasm to strengthen the collection at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) joined the group of international organizations that will deposit seeds of germplasm of mandate crops at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, to be inaugurated on 26 February.

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ICRISAT advocates rescue plan for dryland farmers

Even as governments of developed and developing countries are bailing out banks, insurance companies and financial institutions to prevent them from going bankrupt and starting a domino effect, they continue to neglect the poor farmers in their countries, an action that can have short- and long-term adverse impacts on national and global economies.

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ICRISAT earns its second ‘Outstanding rating

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been rated “Outstanding” based on the performance-linked measurements of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), for the second year in a row.

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Science innovations help dryland farmers deal with food and financial crisis

The global food crisis followed by the current financial crisis has inflicted further hardships to poor farmers of the semi-arid tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, scientific innovations developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are empowering these farmers to cope with the crisis.

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Land degradation threatens dryland populations

The survival of more than 250 million people living in the drylands of the developing world is being threatened by a chronic problem – land degradation.

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The American Society of Agronomy honors ICRISAT scientist

A senior scientist of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Dr Hari D Upadhyaya, was honored as a Fellow of the prestigious American Society of Agronomy at its Annual Meeting held at Houston, USA, recently. Dr Upadhyaya is Principal Scientist (Genetic Resources) at ICRISAT.

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Sweet sorghum: A new smart biofuel crop that ensures food security

In these days of soaring food prices worldwide, imagine a crop that provides food, livestock feed and biofuel. It grows in dry conditions, tolerates heat, salt and waterlogging, and provides steady income for poor farmers.

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Crop breeders on verge of beating Africas most noxious weed use cutting edge science technique

Nairobi, Kenya – Agricultural researchers have successfully identified and transferred genes that confer resistance to Africa’s most deadly weed (Striga) using the novel marker assisted selection technique successfully for the first time in the history of crop breeding in Africa.

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Community watersheds combat drought

The monsoons came late over the semi-arid regions of central India this year. While several farming villages suffered from drought, Kothapally village in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh had water in their wells for drinking and irrigating crops.

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International Public Goods developed by ICRISAT improve agricultural productivity

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a public-funded advanced agricultural research institute, has generated research products that have a significant impact on improving agricultural productivity in the semi-arid tropics in the developing countries of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis

Even as national governments make strong efforts to fight off bankruptcy for their financial institutions, the lands that support their farmers and ensure food security for their populations are facing ever-increasing threats of degradation.

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Scientific innovations will trigger Green Revolution in Africa

Scientific innovations can help bring about Africa’s Green Revolution. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), headquartered in Patancheru near Hyderabad in southern India, is working with other institutions in the global initiative to bring about a green revolution in the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICRISAT mandates open access to all its scientific and scholarly publications

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has formally launched an open access (OA) system for its scientific publications. ICRISAT has declared the Green OA Mandate in the Institute, thereby making available a digital, web-accessible repository of pre-prints of the scientific and scholarly publications emerging from ICRISAT’s research.

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Technical and policy options for the drylands

To restore the eroding confidence of dryland farmers, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and its strategic partners offer research and policy options.

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Climate change adaptation innovations bring hope to dryland farmers

Modeling studies undertaken by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on the potential impact of climate change on dryland crops show that the drop in yields can be minimized through the use of adapted and improved crop varieties plus soil and water management innovations.

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ICRISAT offers short courses with University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will soon establish a joint University of Florida-ICRISAT International Distance Education Center (UF-ICRISAT-IDEC) based at the latter’s headquarters in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India.

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Every day is EARTH DAY at ICRISAT

As the world observes “Earth Day” on 22 April, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), headquartered in Patancheru, Hyderabad in southern India, is happy to join in the global expression of awareness and care for the environment.

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First Global Scientific Conference supporting UN efforts to curb desertification opens in Argentina

As climate change negotiators continue to skirt the role of agricultural land use in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, top scientists working on land management in the world's vast dry areas will gather from 21 September to 2 October 2009, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, determined to make the case that thwarting desertification in drylands is viable and also critical to the success of a new climate deal.

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ICRISAT signs Copenhagen Communiqué on climate change

The Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Dr William Dar, has signed the Copenhagen Communiqué on climate change joining a host of leading global institutions endorsing the initiative. Other signatories include the Adidas Group, Cable & Wireless plc, Cathay Pacific Airways, HSBC, Procter & Gamble and Swiss Re, amongst over 350 companies of all sizes and background.

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Food security in the drylands in peril

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations declared that global food insecurity has worsened and continues to seriously threaten humanity. With food prices remaining stubbornly high in developing countries, the number of people suffering from hunger has grown relentlessly in recent years.

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ICRISATs science helps prevent desertification and land degradation

As events mark the World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June, cutting edge scientific innovations of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) deliver impact towards conserving land and water hence sustaining and increasing productivity.

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HOPE to boost sorghum and millet production in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has launched a new project that aims to increase food security for smallholder farmers in dryland areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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ICRISAT and the World Vegetable Center strengthen collaboration to improve crop diversity for farmers

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) are strengthening research collaboration to diversify the food basket for the farmers from the developing countries of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Bracing for a ‘perfect storm that looms large over the poor

The world must brace itself for a brewing ‘perfect storm’ – a confluence of crises brought about by climate change, desertification, high energy demand and an exploding population. This wakeup call comes from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) which has a repository of crop varieties that could successfully grow in a warmer world.

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ICRISAT gets a positive assessment from the External Program and Management Review

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) received a positive assessment report from the Sixth External Program and Management Review (EPMR) organized by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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ICRISAT Director General gets a third term in office

The Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has appointed Director General, Dr William D Dar, for a third five-year term in office. Dr Dar will continue as the Director General of ICRISAT from January 2010 to December 2014.

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A magic pea leads a new Green Revolution in the drylands

A new, improved, protein-rich pea is set to launch a new Green Revolution. This new variety of pigeonpea, called Pushkal, is the first commercially available hybrid legume in the world.

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Unraveling of the sorghum genome will help improve dryland crops

The announcement of the unraveling of the genome of sorghum, one of the mandate crops of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), will strengthen the Institute’s research for the improvement of sorghum and other food crops.

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ICRISAT and IFAD call for a second Green Revolution

A second Green Revolution must be waged to end hunger and poverty in the drylands. This clarion call was given by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Director General William Dar and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Kanayo Nwanze in dialogue with the media.

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Success in increasing production of sorghum and millets by up to 150 percent

More than 180,000 households were reached with new technologies that increased the production of sorghum and millets by up to 150%, at the end of a six-year project to boost food security in the dryland areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The final report for theHOPE project was recently completed  – the initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,was carried out by 50 partners led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 2009-2015.

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New initiative to help Sorghum and Millet farmers increase their yields in spite of high temperatures and low rainfall

A dryland cereals improvement project ‘HOPE Phase 2’ aimed at improving productivity of sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet will be launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Harmony Hotel on May 11, 2016. The initiative, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims at helping farmers in six sub-Saharan Africa countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, cope with the effects of drought, and reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

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Global team cracks ancestor genome of groundnut

A scientific breakthrough on the DNA sequencing of the groundnut (also known as peanut) promises the development of improved groundnut varieties with enhanced traits such as increased pod and oil yield, drought and heat tolerance and greater disease resistance.  A team of 51 scientists from 9 institutes in China, India, USA and Australia, including the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), have decoded the complete DNA sequencing of the ancestor of the groundnut, the diploid A-genome (Arachis duranensis).

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New ICT-Agriculture partnership can bring revolutionary change for farmers and food industries

An initiative to boost digital agriculture has been launched in a strategic partnership between the startup incubator of the Indian state of Telangana, T-Hub and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the two organizations to foster a collaborative environment to help entrepreneurs at T-Hubleverage their skills to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in the drylands of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

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ICRISAT Governing Board calls for strengthening partnerships in drought hit Zimbabwe to benefit smallholder farmers

Increasing and expanding the production of small grains such as legumes and millets, are critical for overcoming the challenges of the current severe drought gripping Zimbabwe. This is one of the key messages of the 74th meeting of the Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. To cope with the extreme climate events, there is a need for science backed solutions with stronger partnerships and a country strategy. The focus is a triple win for Zimbabwe by improving crops, such as sorghum, groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea that are highly nutritious, climate smart and good profitability for smallholder farmers.

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First six underprivileged South African youth trained to be future agri-preneurs
A first group of six South African youth have successfully completed a four month agricultural training program at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. The initiative, with support from the South African government, is an effort to give youth from the region more opportunities in the agricultural sector. It comes at a time when the South African government has emphasised agriculture as a priority for the country’s economic development. These trainees have made agriculture their key to fight issues like unemployment and poverty.
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The first genome code of cultivated peanut cracked by international group of researchers
Hyderabad, India — In a scientific breakthrough that promises accelerated gene discovery and development of improved peanut (also known as groundnut) cultivars, researchers have completed high quality sequencing of the ancestral genomes of the crop. This will lead to better peanut varieties with enhanced pod and oil yield, greater disease resistance, drought and heat tolerance and oil quality. The breakthrough was made by researchers of The International Peanut Genome Initiative (IPGI) led by the University of Georgia in the US (UGA) and published online in “Nature Genetics (http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.3517.html)”— the leading high impact factor journal in the area of genetics, genomics, and biotechnology on 22 February 2016. ­­­
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New approaches and priority international investments have Malawis young farmers sing out loud to support Global Goals

On September 25th 2015, world leaders will commit to The Global Goals for sustainable development including ending extreme poverty and fighting inequality. Malawi’s young farmers sing out loud to show farming can be one way to do this. Their song Kondwa was inspired by the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. ‘I’m 21. Look at me. I’m self-reliant, I buy my own clothes, go to the salon for my hair and I’m a farmer.’ Juliette Harawa, 21, is just one of the many young farmers ready revolutionize rural Malawi. ‘The big problem is when the young think farming is just subsistence and traditional. It isn’t. With the right means we can turn it into a modern business,’ says Juliette.

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ICRISAT Governing Board calls for partnerships that benefit smallholder farmers

Partnerships, especially to further the adoption of scientific advancements that benefit the small holder farmer, were the recurring theme at the 73rd Governing Board meeting of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) held recently in Hyderabad and New Delhi.  Appropriate partnerships with the private industry were high on the agenda which included partnering with companies for their Corporate Social Responsibility. Highlighting the importance of partnerships, Dr Chandra Madramootoo, ICRISAT Governing Board Chair said, “With a focus on strong partnerships and research for development, ICRISAT is dedicated to elevate rural communities out of poverty, while improving their health”.

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ICRISAT adds finger millet as its 6th mandate crop

Finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.], which figured among the six small millets in research portfolio of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has now been formally made its mandate crop. This is an important recognition for a crop which has been an integral part of ICRISAT’s research portfolio.  “Finger millet has always been within our mandate crops but we want to provide greater visibility to this nutri-cereal that offers so much to both smallholders in the form of economic opportunity and to consumers (including farm families) in the form of improved nutrition”, said ICRISAT Director General Dr David Bergvinson.

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World Food Day 2015 - Pigeonpea – a life changer for Malawis drought-stricken farmers

Be it in India or Africa, there is the same problem of youth wanting to leave the farms and have other careers. Attracting youth to agriculture has become an issue on the government agenda in both the continents if they are to be able to feed their growing populations. In Chambogho in Karonga district in North Malawi, 31-year-old John Msuku and his family insist pigeonpea has transformed their lives. When John first left school, he rushed to the southern city Blantyre to find a ‘proper job’. “My parents wanted me to stay and make a living out of fishing like them. But they had always struggled and I wanted a career where I would not be poor.”

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Iron-rich Pearl Millet Reverses Iron Deficiency in Children

Washington D.C., May 18, 2015 – A new study has found that pearl millet bred to be richer in iron was able to reverse iron deficiency in school-aged Indian children in six months. In just four months, iron levels improved significantly.  Previously, the same iron-rich pearl millet had been shown to provide iron deficient Indian children under the age of three with enough iron to meet their daily needs, and adult women in Benin with more than 70 percent of their daily needs.  Lack of iron impairs cognitive development and behavior in children, and adults’ ability to work. Severe anemia, often caused by iron deficiency, increases risks to women in childbirth, including death. Despite efforts to curb iron deficiency through supplements and fortified foods, iron deficiency remains the most widespread nutrition deficiency in the world, affecting 1.6 billion people.

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Priority investments set for agriculture in the drylands of Ethiopia

New approaches and priority international investments have been agreed for agricultural research and development in the drylands of Ethiopia. This comes from a series of strategy meetings between the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Four areas with greatest opportunities have been identified: intensification of legumes for better human and environmental health; ; expanding  cereal production  by promoting  the industrial potential of sorghum and other millets, including tef; scaling up of watershed management for more intensive agriculture;  and new approaches to help farmers manage climate variability.

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Climate change making chickpea susceptible to new diseases

If you think that climate change is merely a drastic change in weather, think again. Scientists at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) found that higher temperatures are making chickpea susceptible to new diseases.

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ICRISAT and AVRDC receive CGIARs Outstanding Partnership Award

The world's agricultural researchers bestowed two international research institutes headquartered in India and Taiwan the prestigious “Science Award for Outstanding Partnership” for improving the lives of countless women and children in West Africa. Scientists at the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) developed techniques for growing vegetables in the deserts of West Africa.

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ICRISAT unveils market-oriented research strategy for dryland smallholder farmers

A way in which science can be better harnessed to help bring about prosperity in the drylands of the developing world has been mapped out. Meeting at Arusha, Tanzania last week, the Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) approved its new research strategy for the next ten years.

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ICRISAT and UC Davis to boost nitrogen fixation of legumes

A $1.7 million research grant has been awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA under its Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program to Professor of plant pathology Dr Douglas Cook at the University of California, Davis and Dr Rajeev Varshney at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), to fund research on nitrogen fixation in legumes, the plant family that includes chickpea, pigeonpeas, beans, peanuts and alfalfa.

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New global initiative launched to harness biotechnology

The Molecular Breeding Platform (MBP) a one-stop shop for information, analytical tools and related services to design and efficiently conduct molecular-assisted breeding experiments aims to increase breeding efficiency in developing countries.

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Earth Day 2010: ICRISAT for protecting Mother Earth

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) joins more than one billion people in 190 countries across the globe in celebrating “Earth Day 2010” on April 22. Four decades after the first Earth Day, our world is facing more crises than ever before. Climate change is one of the greater challenges of our times. In the center of this crises are the 670 million poorest of the poor people that ICRISAT has a mandate to serve.

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Crop Science Society of America honors head of ICRISAT genebank

Dr Hari D Upadhyaya who plays a key role in preserving the germplasm at the genebank in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), vows to save the variety of life in 2010- the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity.

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International Conference calls for research on adapting plants to global warming

At the first International Conference on Plant Nutrition (ICPN 2010) ICRISAT Director General William D Dar yesterday called for the use of basic science in developing plants that could adapt to drought.

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ICRISAT and CII to catalyse Indo-African agri-business

Following the success of Brussels based EMRC’s (formerly European Marketing Research Center) AgriBusiness Forum 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa and the recent, Inaugural Africa-India Economic Mission to Hyderabad, India, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) will assist Indian entreprenurs to strengthen ties with their African counterparts at the forthcoming AgriBusiness Forum-2010 in Kampala, Uganda.

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Reducing global hunger by half in 2015 still possible

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the world’s 1020 million undernourished people by half between now and 2015 is still possible.

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ICRISAT launches a new strategy to help end poverty in the drylands

Poverty must be ended, not only alleviated. This is the goal of a strategy launched by the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to finally shatter the pessimism towards the drylands of developing countries which are usually propped up by external aid for economic growth.

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ICRISAT bags Research Leadership Award

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is the recipient of the prestigious Research Leadership Award 2010 presented at the Third Agricultural Leadership Summit held in New Delhi on 29 September.

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ICRISAT and EMRC join hands to boost agri-business in Africa

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Brussels-based EMRC have decided to facilitate more Africa-India missions to encourage B2B dialogue with Indian enterprise, to unleash the potential of African agriculture.

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South-South partnership key to fighting poverty in the drylands

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will lead representatives from world agriculture organizations in a discussion on South-South collaboration to fight poverty in the drylands tropics.

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ICRISAT Governing Board launches platform for South-South collaboration and approves its medium-term plan

Launching the “ICRISAT South-South Initiative” (IS-SI) to boost India-Africa partnerships on agricultural research-for-development, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has further elevated its role as a bridge, broker and catalyst in the global fight against poverty and hunger.

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ICRISAT forms South-South Initiative to fight poverty in the drylands

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) announces today the formation of the ICRISAT South-South Initiative (IS-SI) to boost India-Africa partnership on agricultural research-for-development to fight poverty in the drylands.

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ICRISAT germplasm materials making impact on global food security

A total of 735 highly-nutritious and drought-tolerant crop varieties developed using germplasm and breeding materials from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been released in 78 countries, significantly contributing to increased income and better nutrition of resource-poor people in the dryland tropics.

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On World Food Day and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, ICRISAT helps fight poverty and hunger in the dryland tropics

With nearly a billion people malnourished, and 70 million more people pushed into extreme poverty throughout the world by the current rising food prices, ICRISAT further elevates its role as a bridge, broker and catalyst in the fight against global poverty and hunger.

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2nd India-Africa Economic Mission concludes, lays groundwork for South-South collaboration

The 2nd India-Africa Economic Mission organized by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Brussels-based EMRC International came to a successful close here yesterday.

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Roundtable meet focuses on building climate-resilient rainfed agriculture

Providing sustainable and science-based solutions and pro-poor approaches to climate change adaptation in rainfed agriculture was the focus of the Roundtable on Climate Change and Rainfed Faming Systems held at ICRISAT-Patancheru on 16 August 2011.

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International conference to improve nutrition and health

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) participated in the IFPRI 2020 international conference from 10–12 February 2011, New Delhi on Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health, organized by The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). ICRISAT and IFPRI belong to the Consortium of Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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ICRISAT stresses on partnership-based agricultural research-for-development on its 39th anniversary

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) celebrated its 39th Annual Day on 9 December at Patancheru highlighting purposeful partnership and market-oriented development as key in tackling poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the drylands.

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Market focus needed for food security in the tropical drylands

Tackling the complexity of challenges in the tropical drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), spoke at the Crawford Fund State Parliamentary Conference held in Parliament House, Brisbane on 6 April.

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ICRISAT-led global team cracks pigeonpea genome

Once referred to as an “orphan crop” mainly grown by poor farmers, pigeonpea is now set to join the world’s league of major food crops with the completion of its genome sequence.

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ICRISAT observes International Womens Day in Global Incubation Forum

As part of the three-day Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubation Conference (NIABI 2011) from 08 to 10 March 2011 at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a special session on women entrepreneurs in agribusiness and their role in agricultural development will be held at its headquarters in Patancheru on 9 March 2011.

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ICRISAT and EMRC International partner for the 2nd Africa-India Economic Mission

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and EMRC International, Brussels are partnering once again for the second edition of the Africa-India Economic Mission to be held in Hyderabad, India from 11-16 December 2011.

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Olympic medalist lauds ICRISATs gene conservation efforts in the fight against hunger and poverty

“ICRISAT’s plant genetic conservation initiatives illustrate the value and use of biodiversity in the fight against hunger and poverty, and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics,” said India’s ace badminton player and Olympic bronze medalist Ms Saina Nehwal.

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ICRISAT scientists key to better livelihoods in the drylands

As part of its 40th founding anniversary celebrations this week, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) held a Loyalty Day today to honor staff for their dedicated service to the Institute.

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ICRISAT the best hope for poor farmers in the drylands

“ICRISAT represents the best hope of farmers in the semi-arid tropics, crucial for the economic prosperity and food and nutritional security of the dryland poor,” says Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister, Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina.

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ICRISAT scientist bags International Crop Science Award

Dr CL Laxmipathi Gowda, Director of the Grain Legumes Research Program at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India, received the 2012 International Service in Crop Science Award during the Annual Meeting of Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) on 23 October at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

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ICRISAT and BGI seal research partnership on modern sequencing technologies for molecular crop breeding

BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in India has jointly announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a long-term collaboration on applied genomics research and molecular breeding.

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Smallholder farmers to benefit from second phase of tropical legumes project

A second phase of an agricultural research for development project aimed at improving the livelihoods of poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has been recently agreed on. This is one of seven grants which Bill Gates announced today in Rome at the 35th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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ICRISAT-led CGIAR Research Programs to boost food, nutrition and income security of dryland poor

The Fund Council of CGIAR, the world’s largest international agriculture research coalition, recently approved two ten-year research programs aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of billions of poor in the dryland tropics of the world.

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ICRISAT and ICAR partner to build climate resilient agriculture

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have called to adapt new measures to tackle the growing climate related risks and constraints that prevail in rural areas.

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Agro-biodiversity vital in the global fight against hunger and poverty: ICRISAT

“Biological diversity has been and continues to be the foundation for agricultural research for food security and poverty reduction across the world,” according to Director General William Dar of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India.

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Philip Ikeazor calls for boosting Nigerias groundnut production to export levels using ICRISATs research expertise and partnerships

In July 2012, Philip Ikeazor will complete his second and final three-year term on the Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

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Agribusiness incubation and entrepreneurship key for vibrant agricultural development

Highlighting the crucial role of entrepreneurship as a catalyst for agricultural and economic development, the 2ndGlobal Agri-Business Incubation Conference of the Network of Indian Agri-Business Incubators (NIABI) 2012 concluded successfully in New Delhi on 8 February 2012.

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Media has uncommon opportunities for promoting biodiversity conservation

With the impact of climate change already visible through extreme weather events and with a worsening scenario projected for the future, the genetic wealth in biological diversity could be the key to providing ecological and economic stability to countries and building climate-resilient agriculture.

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Feeding the forgotten poor chronicles agriculturists perspectives in tackling poverty and hunger

The world’s population will grow from almost 7 billion now to over 9 billion in 2050. The daunting question is – will there be enough food to go around?

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ICRISAT-HOPE sharply increases sorghum yields in Maharashtra, India

HOPE has become reality for 25,000 farmers in dryland Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of the state of Maharashtra, known as the ‘Sorghum Bowl of India’.

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Using information technology to revitalize agricultural extension and education

Millions of smallholder farmers worldwide could improve their yields, incomes and resilience if only they had better access to appropriate information and knowledge that helps them make informed choices about farming practices.

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ICRISAT & ICAR host 6th international conference on legume genetics and genomics

Legumes, known as “food for all” as they represent a healthy and affordable dietary source for all types of people, rich or poor, are the subject of a big, international scientific conference here in Hyderabad.

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USAID-supported project to apply genomics research to pigeonpea improvement

A comprehensive, three-year, US$2-million pigeonpea molecular breeding project was launched yesterday aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of millions of poor people in the drylands.

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Hopes rise for global food security as worlds largest agricultural research partnership marks major milestone: doubles funding to $1 billion in five years

CGIAR, the world’s largest agriculture research partnership, today announced its funding has doubled from $500 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2013. Officials say harvesting the fruits of this historic commitment could, among other benefits, lift 150 million people in Asia out of poverty by boosting rice production, provide 12 million African households with sustainable irrigation, save 1.7 million hectares of forest from destruction, and give 50 million poor people access to highly nutritious food crops.

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ICRISAT scientist receives top honor from Crop Science Society of America

Dr Hari D Upadhyaya, Principal Scientist (Groundnut) and Head of Genebank at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India, received the most prestigious Crop Science Research Award from the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) during its annual meeting at Tampa, Florida, USA on 6 November 2013.

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Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines

In a scientific breakthrough that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity, a global research team has completed high-quality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea.

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“EXPLOREit” gets ICRISATs science to the public

EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT (exploreit.icrisat.org) breaks information barriers by making large volumes of agricultural scientific knowledge and information easily accessible by the public. EXPLOREit was launched today by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at its headquarters in Hyderabad, India.

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ICRISAT Director General William Dar receives MS Swaminathan Leadership in Agriculture award

The Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Dr William D. Dar, received the MS Swaminathan Award for Leadership in Agriculture for the year 2013.

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Illumina announces recipients of Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grants

Illumina, Inc. announced two new grant recipients of its Agricultural Greater Good Initiative at the 21st International Plant and Animal Genome Conference on 15 January 2013. The recipients, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in India and the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub), are pioneering applications of Illumina technologies to increase crop yields and reduce poverty and hunger.

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Inclusive market-oriented development needed to improve livelihoods of the poor

The power of market opportunities to offer more prosperous lives for smallholder farmers and their families in the dryland tropics was the focus of the Global Planning Meeting of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) held this week (11-15 February) at its headquarters in Patancheru near Hyderabad.

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Open Data for agriculture vital to global food security

Making agricultural research, knowledge and information more widely available is part of a growing global movement to ensure that agricultural knowledge contributes to greater food security, especially in developing countries.

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Partnership and convergence vital in rejuvenating agriculture and livelihoods in the drylands

The power of sustainable partnership and convergence in pursuing science-led development to benefit smallholder farmers was the highlight of today’s 41st annual day celebration of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at its headquarters here.

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Global research programs on grain legumes and dryland cereals launched to boost food and nutrition security of the poor

With food insecurity and malnutrition persisting as the greatest challenge facing humanity in the coming decades, two grand research programs to boost food and nutrition and improve livelihoods particularly of the dryland poor were launched here yesterday by the world’s largest international agriculture research coalition.

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ICRISAT Director General Dr William D. Dar honored with ‘Excellence in Agricultural Leadership Award

Dr William D. Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Patancheru near Hyderabad, was conferred with the prestigious “Excellence in Agricultural Leadership Award” by the Association of Agricultural Technology in Southeast Asia (AATSEA) during the 2nd International Conference on Integration of Science and Technology for Sustainable Development at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand on 28 November.

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Creating a market-oriented agriculture for Eastern and Southern Africa

A sustainable and market-oriented agriculture is the way forward in making smallholder farming in Eastern and Southern Africa more profitable and resilient, and in feeding the region’s growing population using the limited resources available now and in the future.

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ICRISAT scientist receives Japans Niigata International Food Award

Dr CL Laxmipathi Gowda, Deputy Director General for Research of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), received the 2014 Sano Touzaburo Special Prize from Japan’s Niigata International Food Award Foundation, at yesterday’s award ceremony held in Toki Messe International Conference Hall, Niigata, Japan.

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Reviving hopes of farmers with hybrid pigeonpea technology

Farmer producer organizations (FPOs) from six states of India are benefiting from the agribusiness facilitation of ICRISAT that will enable them to operate as businesses and make their farm operations sustainable and profitable.

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Reviving hopes of farmers with hybrid pigeonpea technology

Over 70 smallholder farmers and seed producers from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat collectively endorsed and recognized the contribution of hybrid pigeonpea in achieving food and nutrition security, resilience and improved livelihood.

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ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar honored with Life Time Achievement Award at the 7th Agriculture Leadership Summit

In recognition of his relentless efforts to improve the livelihoods of poor smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), was conferred the prestigious Agriculture Leadership Award 2014 (Life Time Achievements) at the 7th Agriculture Leadership Summit, held in New Delhi on 27 September, 2014.

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Appointment of new ICRISAT Director General

The Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr David Bergvinson as the next Director General of ICRISAT for a five-year term, effective January 01, 2015.

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ICRISAT Governing Board commits to new significant research and science investments in Africa

The Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has today made a decision to boost its research in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by investing US$ 5 million towards upgrading research infrastructure and building scientific skills on the African continent.

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Nigerian Minister of Agriculture Akinwumi Adesina named ICRISAT Ambassador of Goodwill

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has named Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as its Ambassador of Goodwill.

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James Bolger affirms support, as ICRISAT Ambassador of Goodwill, for science-based solutions to poverty and hunger

“The world will have to feed 10 billion people by 2050. Today, a billion people are hungry and about 3 billion are not eating well.To overcome poverty, hunger and malnutrition, science is an essential component that must be behind all our efforts,” said Rt. Hon James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) Advisory Board.

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ICRISAT identifies climate resilient germplasm to support chickpea breeding

In yet another significant contribution to the fight against hunger and climate change, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has identified 40 germplasm lines of chickpea with resistance to extreme weather conditions such as drought, high temperature and salinity.

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ICRISAT adopts gender transformative approach in agricultural research

Empowering women smallholder farmers to overcome the unique hurdles they face in the semi-arid tropics, and thus securing the future of food production and the economic growth in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, was among the key messages at the Asia Regional Planning Meeting of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

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ICRISAT investments in agricultural research yield high payoffs for the dryland poor

A growing pipeline of science-based agricultural innovations and impacts by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is impacting the lives of the dryland poor on a large scale, showing high returns on investment in agricultural research for development (AR4D).

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Director General of ICRISAT retires after 15 years of transformative leadership in agricultural research

Dr William D. Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) with its global headquarters in Hyderabad, relinquishes his post on 31 December 2014 after an unprecedented three, five-year terms.

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ICRISAT scientist conferred with the prestigious Indian National Science Academy fellowship

The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) conferred its elected fellowship on Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, and Director – Centre of Excellence in Genomics, at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) for his outstanding work in the area of legume genomics. The award was presented at the INSA’s 69th anniversary meet in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India held recently.

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First agribusiness incubator in West Africa established to boost market-oriented agriculture

The first ever full-fledged agribusiness incubator in West Africa was inaugurated recently, recognizing the crucial role of agribusiness and entrepreneurship to build the economy through sustainable and market-oriented agriculture.

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Massive Open Online Courses for agricultural professionals to usher in classrooms without boundaries

Opening unlimited opportunities for the less privileged in India to have access to quality agricultural education, the ‘National Virtual Academy for Indian Agriculture to promote Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for Agricultural Professionals’ was launched yesterday at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) global headquarters.

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Creating a more inclusive culture across ICRISAT offices in Africa

As a follow-up to the Global Planning Meeting (GPM) held at ICRISAT-India and to share the values and culture of ICRISAT with all staff across African locations, various events were organized at the different ICRISAT locations in Africa.

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SIMLESA Tanzania Review and Planning meeting held in Arusha

The annual review and planning meeting of the collaborative SIMLESA project funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by CIMMYT, was held in Arusha, Tanzania on 15 and 16 December 2010. The meeting was opened by the Director of the Department of Research and Development, Dr Fidelis Myaka, and ICRISAT was represented at the meeting by Drs Said Silim and Ganga Rao. Other participants included scientists from CIMMYT and the Tanzanian NARS.

 
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Dryland Cereals undertakes sorghum scoping study in Mozambique
A sorghum scoping study was recently conducted in Mozambique primarily to align the strategies of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals (Dryland Cereals) with the country’s national R&D strategies, towards identifying entry points for collaboration.
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Drone technology to assess impacts of watershed programs in Eastern Africa
Drone technology, also commonly known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology, is the use of aircrafts without a human pilot. This technology is now being tested in Eastern Africa to arrest land degradation and to rehabilitate degraded lands to enhance productivity through sustainable intensification. Initiated by ICRISAT Eastern and
Southern Africa (ESA) with funding support from ASARECA, this effort is part of a project to test the adaptability of watershed-based management.
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Radio program on Aflatoxin tested in Malawi
Sakala is one of the 16 farmers who are part of the Chilanga Radio Listeners’ Club, whose members meet once or twice a week to listen to radio programs on agriculture and health and nutrition that are aired on M’mudzi Wathu, the local community radio station. Members of the club then debate the merits of the information they have heard.
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ICRISAT – Nairobi holds workshop on novel genotyping tool
A team of scientists based in Africa and working mainly on cereal genomics came together on 5 - 9 August to learn the ropes of genotyping-bysequencing, a state-of-the-art genotyping tool.
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Up-scaling climate information services in Kenya
ICRISAT Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) has developed and tested a two-step demand-driven approach to address the climate challenge. For targeted farmers in Kenya who are keen to learn, the first stage will consist of a series of three radio programs to be aired in collaboration with Mbaitu FM, a local FM station. In the second stage, farmers showing interest in learning more will be provided with the necessary climate information, historical trends as well as forecast for the coming season.
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Scaling up technologies to bridge the yield gap in Mozambique
What can be done to bridge Mozambique's agricultural yield gap? This constituted one of the major deliberations at the National Workshop on Scaling Technologies to Meet Mozambique’s Agricultural Productivity Goals, held in Nampula on 6-8 August. The workshop was designed to discuss issues around promoting better access to and use of existing technologies and to identify the most promising ones for scaling up in Mozambique.
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Chinese delegation explores groundnut production opportunities in Malawi to benefit smallholder farmers
A team of academics and engineers from the People’s Republic of China visited ICRISAT-Lilongwe in Malawi on 17 July for a briefing on the status of groundnut production in
the country.
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ICRISAT Malawi hosts Gambia delegation exploring groundnut diversification
On 11 July, ICRISAT in Lilongwe, Malawi hosted eight visitors from Gambia who were visiting the country to learn about diversification of groundnut for human consumption and trade.
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Sustainable intensification of sorghum and legume system (SLI) project reviewed
The project on sustainable intensification of sorghum-legume based systems (SLI) in Eastern and Central Africa aims to enhance productivity and competitiveness by increasing the utilization of sustainable sorghum-legume system technologies and innovations by smallholder farmers. It is backstopped by the Staple Foods Program of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) in partnership with ICRISAT and national partners in Uganda, Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania.
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Pigeonpea revived in Northern Malawi
Pigeonpea in Malawi’s northern district of Karonga was all but forgotten. The local variety took close to 9 months to mature and farmers only grew small areas for their own consumption. With the recent release and promotion of the medium-duration variety ICEAP 00557, locally known as Mwaiwathualimi, the situation has changed. ICEAP 00557 matures in 5-6 months and yields much more than the long-duration pigeonpea.
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ICRISAT-HOPE team draws proposal for project extension
With the ICRISAT-led HOPE project’s current no-cost extension phase coming to an end in December 2013, the project team met from 1-4 July in Naivasha, Kenya to discuss and formulate activities to be carried out in all the participating countries following this phase.
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Microdosing: Changing lives of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe
A recent impact assessment study showed that for every US dollar that ICRISAT has invested in the microdosing technology, farmers in Zimbabwe have reaped a return of five US dollars. This result was shared at a seminar held on 4 July in Harare, Zimbabwe organized by ICRISAT’s Impact Assessment Office, primarily aimed at determining how
microdosing is now changing lives of smallholder farmers in the country.
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ICRISAT Malawi holds field day for groundnut breeders and genebank managers
To expose groundnut breeders and genebank managers to germplasm materials being maintained at ICRISAT Malawi, the Groundnut Breeding team organized a field day on 24 June for collaborating researchers in Eastern and Southern Africa. Partners from Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique participated in the field day.
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Eastern Africa holds 4th Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement regional meeting in Nairobi
Climate, crop and economic model experts in Eastern Africa met in Nairobi on 1-5 July to share results and report on AgMIP’s progress and activities, and to prepare for the sub-Saharan Africa wide meeting scheduled to be held on 15-19 July. This 4th regional meeting was attended by 30 participants representing national agricultural research, meteorological and academic institutions in four participating countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
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Extension workers trained in climate services to benefit farmers in Kenya

Organized by ICRISAT-Nairobi, a training program was held for extension officers from Makueni County, Kenya at Wote Town on 24 and 25 June, to improve their ability to understand and interpret probabilistic climate information and communicate the same lucidly for use by smallholder farmers in planning and managing their farm activities.

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Credit linkage platform organized for finger millet value chain actors in Western Kenya
Although finger millet grain productivity rose from 4 bags to 8 per acre, farmers and other stakeholders in western Kenya cite inaccessibility to credit and grain markets as major
constraints to sustainability and impact. With this in mind, a credit linkage platform for finger millet value chain, consisting of 20 finger millet value chain actors and service providers, was organized in Busia Town.
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Climate change: Developing Representative Agricultural Pathways
Developing credible storylines on the probable future outcomes of bio-physical, institutional, socioeconomic, technological and other factors expected to influence the performance of the agriculture sector in Kenya in the face of climate change engaged participants at the Climate Change Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs) Development Workshop held at the ICRAF campus, Gigiri, Kenya on 30 May.
 
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Communicating climate services for farmer communities
The farming community can cope better with climate change if we help them prepare better for the future. As part of efforts to help them get a better handle on climate uncertainties,
ICRISAT and ILRI organized an international expert workshop on ‘Developing a methodology to communicate climate services at scale for farmer communities in Africa and South Asia through intermediaries’ at Nairobi from 12-14 June.
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HOPE project scientists trained in data analysis and drafting results
ICRISAT’s Biometrics Unit conducted a two-week Data Analysis and Results Drafting workshop for the HOPE project on 20-31 May in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop trained the partners on methodically organizing, curating and analyzing data sets of single/multi-environment regional trials and on drafting interpreted and analyzed results and figures
into reporting and publishable form.
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Family farming and agricultural research for food security
In a conference organized by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, scientists from around the world gathered to discuss the contribution that agricultural research can make to family farming.
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Passing the Torch: New Country Representative for Zimbabwe
At a simple ceremony held on 5 May, Dr Andre van Rooyen handed over the leadership baton for ICRISAT Zimbabwe to Dr Kizito Mazvimavi. Present at the ceremony were Dr Moses Siambi, Director, ICRISAT Eastern and Southern Africa, and all the staff members of the Bulawayo, Zimbabwe team.
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Improving groundnut seed production in Malawi
The un-met demand for seed under the Malawi Government’s Farm Inputs Subsidy Program and the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction remains high. This has prompted farmers to increase hectarage for seed production and to adopt recommended seed production technologies. Along this goal, over 40 stakeholders within the
groundnut value chain attended a training program on groundnut seed production and post-harvest management on 6-7 May in the lakeshore district of Salima in Malawi.
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Crop-livestock integration project partners meet in Bulawayo
With a view to integrating crops and livestock at the household level to improve livelihoods, three CGIAR centers – ICRISAT, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) convened at ICRISAT Bulawayo on 24-26 April for the first annual review and planning meeting of the project.
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ICRISAT-HOPE project reviews external evaluation report, maps out strategy for extension
The HOPE Project Management Team held its first meeting this year on 22-23 April in Naivasha, Kenya to review the results of the external project evaluation report, review progress towards developing country strategies for sorghum and millets, develop a proposal for a no-cost project extension following the end of phase I in June 2013, and develop a concept note for a 5-year phase II of the project.
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Value chain analysis and how to apply the concepts and tool
A five-day training workshop on ValueLinks was held in Nairobi on 8–12 April to provide economists from ICRISAT and partner institutions in Eastern Africa with a shared understanding and a set of concepts for value chain analysis as well as examples of how to apply these concepts and tools.
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Southern Africa assembly on agricultural research and development
At the first general assembly of the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), various stakeholders convened in Gaborone, Botswana on 6-7 May to deliberate on agricultural research and development priorities for member states of the South African Development Community (SADC).
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Finger millet and sorghum large-scale farming on the rise in Kenya – story of one farmer going big
Finger millet is on the rebound in Kenya, thanks to the ICRISAT-HOPE project. One recent success can be attributed to the entrepreneurial spirit of Mr Cliff Neylan, a farmer in Kenya who has taken up improved varieties to plant the largest acreage in the country outside of maize or wheat.
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Coffee value chain agribusiness incubator launched in Uganda
Coffee smallholder farmers in Uganda can now look forward to better entrepreneurship and agribusiness opportunities and become stronger players in the coffee value chain with the launch of the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD). CURAD also aims to work towards becoming the leading generator of young agribusiness entrepreneurs to create jobs and wealth in East Africa.
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Advances in seed information systems development in Malawi
Seed is a vital farm input that needs careful management across the value chain in order to improve farmers’ productivity. In Malawi, the Seed Services Unit, under the Director of Agriculture Research Services, is mandated to assure and certify the quality of all crop seed before it is routed to the farmer. An analysis of the Unit’s information system in 2010, led to ICRISAT investing in a computer-based system that could improve the efficacy of the Unit.
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Knowledge and skill development training for Africa food testing lab staff begins
Twenty-four participants from nine African countries – Zimbabwe, Gambia, Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Senegal, Zambia and Tanzania – are currently at the ICRISAT headquarters for a two-week training program on “Knowledge and Skill Development of Food Testing Laboratory Personnel from African countries” being held from 30 March to 12 April.
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Project review on sustainable intensification of maizelegume cropping systems held in Hawassa, Ethiopia
Aiming to map out activities and strategies for the project “Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa”
(SIMLESA), a review and planning meeting was held in Hawassa, Ethiopia on 25-27 February.
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Innovation Platform workshops in Zimbabwe: Changing how we view the world
Learning to live with, and even exploit, change and uncertainty was the theme of a series of workshops held in Zimbabwe as part of a  recently started, ACIAR funded project called
ZimClifs or “Integrating Crops and Livestock for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Zimbabwe”.
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Tropical Legumes II Program Officer visits project activities in Western Kenya
Soybean research activities under the Tropical Legumes II project being implemented by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and partners in Kenya were reviewed on 25 January. A team comprising of Dr Jeff Ehlers (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Program Officer for Tropical Legumes II), Dr Emmanuel Monyo (Project Coordinator, ICRISAT), Dr Fredrick Baijukya (TSBF CIAT), and other CIAT, ICRISAT and KARI scientists visited the Lolwe Siaya county on a site managed by CIAT Maseno, where soybean yield potential trials, nutrient omission trials and soybean rust screening have been implemented.
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Farmers field day on sorghum-legumes technology held in Makueni District, Kenya
Charles Wambua was among the 184 farmers (92 of whom were women) from Kikumini, Munde, Wote, Makongo, Kathonzweni, Mwambani, Unoa, Kyamusoi, Mang’auni locations of Makueni District who attended the District Farmers’ Field Day held on John Muia Musya’s farm on 31 January to promote improved climate change-ready sorghum legumes
technologies to improve food and income security.
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ICRISAT participates in UniBRAIN partners meet
The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) participated in the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) Partnership and Incubator Committee Meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya on 28-29 January.
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Tropical Legumes II Project Management Team meets, finalizes country strategies
“Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to reduce crop losses, improve nutrient efficiency of food, extend the post-harvest life of fruits and vegetables, and increase the stress tolerance of plants. In developing countries in particular, it has the potential to revitalize the agricultural sector and enhance profitability of farming,” said Director General William Dar, during his Special Address at the inaugural session of BioAsia 2013, held on 28-30 January in Hyderabad.
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Women farmers trained in finger millet post-harvest handling and value addition
Pamela Ekodi and Jackline Anjao share a common goal – to improve the nutritional and income security of their farm households using finger millet products for household use and local markets. They were part of a group of 18 women from different women’s groups (mostly from Busia, Teso South, Teso North and Matungu districts in western Kenya)
who participated in a training of trainers (TOT) workshop on 17-18 January at the Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) in Busia, Western Kenya. The training was part of the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) project.
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Former Ireland President interacts with Irish Aid recipients
Ms Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland (1990-1997) and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), visited the ICRISAT-Lilongwe location on 8 January accompanied by the Ambassador of Ireland in Malawi. The goal of the visit was to have a better understanding of the work that some of the recipients of Irish Aid are undertaking in tackling issues related to food security and nutrition for smallholder farmers as well as the impacts of climate change.
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Celebrating ICRISATs role in addressing food security in rural Zimbabwe
“I am proud that ICRISAT is doing great things in my province. It has spearheaded the improvement of sorghum and millet growing through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has greatly contributed in alleviating hunger not only in Matabeleland South, but also in Matabeleland North and Masvingo,” said Governor and Resident
Minister Cde Angeline Masuku of Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe. The Governor delivered a keynote address as Guest of Honor at ICRISAT-Bulawayo’s belated celebration of the Institute’s 40th founding anniversary held at the Matopos Research Station last December 2012.
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Reinforcing partnerships for integrated watershed management in Ethiopia
One of the major problems for farmers in Ethiopia’s Woreillu District, some 500 km north of Addis Ababa, is soil erosion and associated land degradation. “Plants here suffer from both nutrient stress and water stress. The top soil in this watershed is gone and production and productivity have declined. Our big question was how can we make sure that seeds and fertilizer stay where they are placed,” says Dr Tilahun Amede, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT-Ethiopia.
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Sorghum hybrid parents research consortium: India success story to be replicated in ESA
Following the success of the three Hybrid Parents Research Consortiums (HPRCs) set up by ICRISAT in India namely – sorghum, pearl millet and pigeonpea – a similar success story is now set to be created in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region.
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Advanced experimental designs, data analysis and management for breeding trials
Continuing its efforts to build the capacity of its partner institutions, ICRISAT organized a six-day training course on "Advanced Experimental Designs, Data Analysis and Management for Breeding Trials"
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Staying relevant: ICRISAT-ESA deliberates on current and future research in a changing world
Finding synergies between scientists and research programs working together under ICRISAT’s Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) framework and addressing the current and future concerns of smallholder farmers was the focus of a recently held ICRISAT Regional Planning Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) for 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
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Innovation Platforms – fostering research for development collaboration and impact in Zimbabwe
Under the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), ICRISAT has used innovation platforms to strengthen the livelihoods of farmers who combine agriculture and livestock rearing in the semi-arid regions of Zimbabwe. With the CPWF project ending, the experiences and learnings arising out of innovation platforms were shared and discussed at the workshop ‘Tapping into Research for Development Impact’.
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Building capacity of national partners
.ICRISAT helped build capacities of its partner organization on research evaluation and impact assessment using the Dynamic Research Evaluation for Managers (DREAM)  odel. Six socio-economists from partner organizations Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute, Uganda, and Department of  
Research and Development, Tanzania, participated in a three-day training.
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Better project management with PRINCE2
ICRISAT staff based in Nairobi, Malawi, and Zimbabwe attended a PRINCE2 project management foundation training course on 28 – 31 October.
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Rural women farmers as drivers of progress and change
Engaging with rural women farmers for technology dissemination and value chain development was the focus of the United Nations’ regional “Sharefair for Rural Women’s Technologies” held in Nairobi, Kenya. ICRISAT was represented by Dr Esther Njuguna-Mungai, Scientist – Gender Research, CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes, and two women innovators of the ‘Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement’ (HOPE) Project.
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Strengthening partnerships in seed technology
The Malawi Seed Industry Development Project, which has directly reached at least 2.2 million households in providing legume seed, demonstrates the potential of partnerships with national agencies. The project, funded by Irish Aid and being implemented by an ICRISAT-led consortium, has also benefited neighboring countries such as Tanzania,
Zambia and Mozambique.
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Crop-livestock integration priority to mitigate climate change risk
Stakeholders at a recent workshop on climate change discussed the need for greater crop livestock integration and fodder production to reduce negative impacts of climate change. For increasing resilience to climate risks there is also need for changes in the policy environment, which still tends to favour crop production with insufficient attention placed on crop-livestock integration and market orientation.
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Sharing lessons and solutions across countries and across value chains
In a first of its kind, a cross-country workshop was conducted across two crop value chains and across two countries – pigeonpea in Tanzania and groundnut in Uganda. To improve the value chains of both crops a set of recommendations emerged at the two-day workshop held in Tanzania.
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Strengthening seed systems in grain legumes in Eastern and Southern Africa
Pigeonpea and chickpea, the two legumes grown widely in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) have experienced good production gains in the past two decades. While the gains have largely been due to the introduction of new varieties, integrated crop management, and effective seed systems, the huge gaps between realizable and actual yields are partly
due to limited availability of quality seed to farmers and challenges posed at various levels of seed production and delivery along the value chain.
Download: 385Kb

Making data collection easier with Open Data Kit
Electronic data collection using Android tablets or phones is rapidly gaining ground. Aiding this technology is the Open Data Kit (ODK) ( http://opendatakit.org/), a suite of tools developed by computer scientists and engineers at the University of Washington. ODK usage is helping organizations and individuals cut costs and has improved data quality as restrictions in entry options and data validation are in-built in the collection tool.
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Gender and partnerships high on the agenda
The 71st meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board held at the headquarters from 22-25 September renewed and revitalized the Institute’s commitment to inclusiveness of  mallholder farmers and partners especially women as the way forward to achieve food and nutritional security. Core to this is building stronger and more dynamic agricultural research-for-development partnerships.
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IMOD has gained traction – now to take it to the next level
ICRISAT’s 2020 strategy was based on an Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) approach. Two years on, ICRISAT commissioned an external review to assess the success of this approach. With feedback from almost 200 stakeholders and over 30 organizations across national agricultural research systems, private sector and development agencies in Africa and Asia, the expert panel identified that IMOD was recognized among partners as a positive and valuable approach and so now is the time to elevate this framework to global implementation and adoption.
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ICRISAT commits new significant investments in Africa
The Governing Board of ICRISAT has decided to boost its research in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by investing US$ 5 million towards upgrading research infrastructure and building scientific skills in the African continent. This investment will be across SSA where ICRISAT has its offices in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ethiopia.
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Sustainable intensification of maize-legume-livestock systems
A team of scientists from ICRISAT, ICRAF, CIMMYT, IITA and national partners are working together for sustainable intensification of maize-legumelivestock farming systems in Tanzania, specifically in Kongwa and Kiteto Districts of Tanzania.
Download: 292Kb

New groundnut varieties approved for release in Malawi
The Agriculture Technology Clearing Committee comprised of agricultural experts in Malawi unanimously approved the release of seven new groundnut varieties to farmers in the country. This is a first for the country that varieties that target different agroecological needs have been released concurrently.
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Developing a robust, commercially sustainable Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) value chain in Kenya and Tanzania
In partnership with the Africa Harvest Biotechnology International Foundation (Africa Harvest), ICRISAT is working to develop a robust, commercially sustainable sorghum for multiple uses value chain in Kenya and Tanzania.
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Using new genomics tools for sorghum improvement
New genomics tools can address urgent needs for a more drought resilient food supply, increase rates of sorghum improvement to better meet long-term population growth, and
investigate production systems that promote sustainable farming, particularly regarding preservation and/or restoration of soil resources and water quality.
Download: 287Kb

ICRISAT-Kenya staff visit Kiboko Field Station
Staff of ICRISAT-Kenya, led by Dr Moses Siambi, Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, ICRISAT, visited the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
(KARI)-Kiboko Field Station as part of a team building exercise on 14-15 August.
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Sorghum and finger millet varieties showcased at county agri-fairs in Kenya
More and more farmers in Kenya are expressing interest in cultivating sorghum and finger millet varieties. The sorghum hybrid GADAM x IS 8193 was a big crowd-puller at the county agricultural shows organized by ICRISAT in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and other stakeholders.
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WLE Nile: Open Call for Expressions of Interest
The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) invites Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from consortiums of partners to carry out research for development projects that will contribute to its demand driven research agenda in Nile Basin-East Africa region.
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Strengthening capacity of technicians and breeders
ICRISAT-Kenya in collaboration with national partners organized a training course for technicians and breeders on emasculation techniques, breeding procedures in sorghums and millets, experimental designs, data collection and management.
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Remote Sensing and GIS training at ICRISAT-Kenya
The need for giving a spatial dimension to field research and the need to integrate multidisciplinary information were highlighted at a training program on ‘Introduction to Applications of Remote Sensing and Geographical
Information Systems (GIS)’ held at ICRISAT-Kenya.
Download: 468Kb

CARE USA shares lessons on gender mainstreaming and integration
Gender dialogues are avenues to identify ‘gender exploitative’ practices in rural communities, and are critical while tackling issues like land access, labor sharing, participation in markets and sharing of benefits. The dialogues help move gender relations from exploitative to accommodative and finally to transformative.
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ICRISAT-Zimbabwe – getting ready to ramp up activities
Discussions with international development agencies, government, farmers and private companies in Zimbabwe have identified key areas for the future of agricultural research and development. Discussions were led by ICRISAT’s Governing Board Chair, Dr Chandra Madramootoo, along with a strong contingent of senior management and scientists.
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Women farmers reaping benefit of improved finger millet cultivation in western Kenya
The demand for finger millet in Kenya is on the increase and women are benefiting from this trend. “Ever since the scientists introduced us to the new varieties and showed us how to take good care of the crop, we have seen a big difference in production. In the past, we could harvest only 2-3 bags but now we harvest up to 10 bags per acre,” said Ms Jennifer Amwait Omuse, a farmer in Busia County, Western Kenya.

 

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Collaborative high-quality research in Grain Legumes
As part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes, ICRISAT and its partners showcased the integrated and collaborative efforts among the participating CGIAR centers and its regional and national partners in achieving the research outputs.

 

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Improving access to well-adapted and high-yielding sorghum and finger millet varieties in Tanzania
As part of the collaborative activities between ICRISAT and the Department of Research and Development (DRD) Tanzania, several on-farm activities were planned and executed in central Tanzania for the season 2013-2014.
Download: 670Kb

Farmers appreciative of finger millet yields in Malawi
To provide improved livelihoods and enhance food security in Malawi, a number of improved varieties of finger millet were introduced in Malawi. These varieties developed by ICRISAT-Kenya, were introduced in the districts of Mzimba and Kasungu in Northern and Central Malawi.
Download: 286Kb

Chickpea research helping Ethiopian smallholder farmers
The contributions of ICRISAT in chickpea research in Ethiopia were recognized at an event that brought together various chickpea value chain stakeholders in the country.
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New ways of doing business identified
Representatives from six African countries, ICRISAT and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 3-5 June for an open dialogue and to share experiences and lessons learnt over the last four years of sorghum and millet research and development under the HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of sorghum and millets) Project.
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Gender Forum launched at ICRISAT
As part of ICRISAT’s commitment towards integrating a gender transformative approach in agricultural research, the ICRISAT Gender Forum was launched. The Forum seeks to integrate gender in agricultural research leading to more effective development outcomes and impacts.
Download: 587Kb

Tropical Legumes II - Progress, partnerships and plans
Access to high-quality seed of the right varieties can make a big difference in a farmer’s field in any given season. On this note, all aspects of seed system development, breeding new varieties, and promoting farmers’ access to improved seed through small packs were discussed at the Tropical Legumes (TL) II Regional Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa held in Kampala, Uganda on 20-25 May.
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Success in increasing production of sorghum and millets by up to 150%

More than 180,000 households were reached with new technologies that increased the production of sorghum and millets by up to 150% across 11 countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The recently concluded Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets project, supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, involved 50 partners led by ICRISAT from 2009-2015.

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Seed inspectors trained on seed quality control in Malawi

In a bid to strengthen seed quality control mechanism in Malawi, 112 para seed inspectors from government and the private sector were trained in three groups, as part of the Feed the Future Malawi Improved Seed Systems and Technologies (FtF-MISST) project.

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Forging multi-sectoral partnerships to tackle malnutrition in Kenya

The aim is to improve the nutritional status of women of reproductive age and children below 5 years through.Exploring how best to approach multi-sectoral collaboration and how to develop a comprehensive, robust nutrition strategy that is in line with the priorities of the Kenyan government were the issues explored at a two-day workshop recently. The multi-sectoral partnership with agriculture, health and education sectors, is being used in Kenya to mainstream nutrition into agricultural development with the aim to reduce malnutrition in the country. This is being attempted through a range of activities, from developing and promoting production and consumption of nutritious crops such as millets, sorghum and legumes; bio-fortification, to partnering with stakeholders to mainstream health, agriculture, nutrition education and women empowerment.

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Genetic Gains Research Program Planning and Strategy Meeting :Unlocking the full potential of genetics gains

Strategies to integrate activities across research programs,and promoting collaboration and integration among scientists, were some of the key aspects discussed during the recently held Planning and Strategy Meeting of the Genetic Gains Research Program. This objective was to harness synergies for efficient use of resources, and assess needs and opportunities to develop a road map for the Genetic Gains Research Program in collaboration with other research programs.

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Involving IT startups to revolutionize farming

Digital agriculture gets a boost with the launch of a strategic partnership between T-Hub, the startup incubator in Telangana State and ICRISAT. The areas that will be explored in the collaboration include: The setting up of an incubation hub for agriculture. Partnerships and synergies across the innovation spectrum. Sponsoring agricultural related programs, events and workshops. Ways in which ICRISAT can become a partner in T-Hub’s Accelerator program in the agriculture domain, which provides a very rigorous course with high-level mentorship to start-up entrepreneurs.

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Global team cracks ancestor genome of groundnut

A scientific breakthrough on the DNA sequencing of groundnut promises the development of improved groundnut varieties with enhanced traits such as increased pod and oil yield; drought and heat tolerance and greater disease resistance. Other significant traits this could help develop include aflatoxin-free, nutrition-rich and allergenfree varieties. The breakthrough also provides insights into geocarpy - a unique reproductive process of the groundnut, oil biosynthesis and allergens.


Smart Food promoted at traditional foods and beverages expo

To create a consumer demand pull for Smart Food – dryland crops such as millets and legumes – by raising Zimbabweans’ awareness on the nutritive value of traditional food and beverages, an expo featured various traditional foods and beverages, along with methods to prepare  them.At the expo, ICRISAT showcased baked products such as bread, muffins and biscuits made of sorghum and millet and also crop varieties that are suitable for drought prone areas such as Matobo District. Recipes were handed out to visitors to encourage them to try these at home.

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Making a difference: ICRISAT’s work to help achieve SDGs

ICRISAT works in the drylands which are some of the driest and harshest regions of the world. Working in these regions has given us unique insights, experience and specialized skills in managing soil, water and other natural resources, restoring degraded soils, coping with adverse climate shocks and helping build the resilience of smallholder farmers.Dryland crops, pearl and finger millets, sorghum, pigeonpea, chickpea and groundnut, which are ICRISAT mandate crops, are Smart Food as they are highly nutritious, grow under adverse conditions with little inputs and have multiple uses beneficial to the farmer. Millets and legumes are traditional dryland crops which provide sustainable livelihoods and productive employment to 2.5 billion people living in the drylands. Millets are high in folic acid, zinc and iron and have 3 times more calcium than milk. Their low glycemic index helps manage blood glucose levels which is useful for diabetics. Both millets and legumes are high in fibre, protein, vitamin and micronutrients such as zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, etc.

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Deploying ICT in agriculture to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

Technology providers, policy makers, donors,practitioners, private sector and civil society came together to discuss how information and communication technologies (ICTs) will enable us to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.At the ICT4D2016 conference, a panel discussion “The Sustainable Development Goals: Not just Pie in the Sky: ICT is Key” focused on new opportunities for public private partnerships to realize the SDGs. The panel was optimistic about achieving the SDGs but also recognized the need for coordinated and strategic contributions of different sectors to support social, economic and environmental development.

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Identifying suitable interventions in smallholder agriculture through systems analysis

The workshop “Modern approaches in systems analysis of resource poor farming systems with a focus on value chains for market-led innovations”. Use of computer based simulation tools for systems analysis, helps target efforts and devise tactics for coping with climate risk, in the highly variable climates of the semi-arid regions- was the key message that emerged from an international workshop on systems analysis.The focus of the workshop was on how such tools are being applied in research for development (R4D) and particularly for identifying market-led opportunities for development.

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Demand driven and holistic approach across regional and global programs

The need for demand driven solutions and a science-led holistic approach to obtain efficient solutions across regional and global programs were some key aspects focused on at the Asia Regional Program planning meet held recently.Participants discussed key issues to reduce hunger and poverty in the semi-arid tropics, and discussed how to build consortiums through effective partnerships to scale up workable solutions to tackle these urgent issues.

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Nutri-cereals and legumes help reduce malnutrition in Malawi and Tanzania

A positive change has been seen in the growth and health of children in just 21 days, by feeding them a nutritious complementary mix consisting of pigeonpea, finger millet, groundnut, carrot and amaranthus leaves; and by addressing factors that inhibit nutrient absorption – hygiene and aflatoxin contamination.Nutrition studies involving 100 children in Malawi and 70 children in Tanzania, in the age group 6-23 months, showed an improvement in the weight and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurements of the children.

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Developing a framework for cooperation and integration to enable holistic research

Development of a framework for cooperation and integration among different disciplines within ICRISAT to undertake holistic research for greater impacts, was a key focus of scientists from Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region at their recent regional planning meeting. They reviewed achievements and lessons learnt from past activities as well as shared and peer reviewed each other’s work plans.

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ICRISAT wins 4 Communicator Awards

The Communicator Awards is a leading international awards program recognizing big ideas in marketing and communications and receives over 6,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. The awards are sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, an invitation-only group consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed media, communications, advertising, creative and marketing firms . The ICRISAT- Annual Report 2014 won the Award of Excellence for featuring an interactive section on how gender can be integrated at every stage of the value chain, in the Print (Annual Report - Non-profit) category.

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Exploring strategies and collaborations to increase participation of women throughout the chickpea value chain in Ethiopia

Potential areas of collaboration with various partners to help Ethiopian women overcome restricting cultural norms and enhance their participation in agronomic activities, were discussed at a feedback session of an ongoing gender study.

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Participants witness the huge impact of improved agri-technologies on farmers and stakeholders along Ethiopian legume value chain

A field trip organized for the participants of the CGIAR Science Forum 2016 provided them an overview of how the legume commodity value chain operates in Ethiopia and how partner institutions and ICRISAT work together to link smallholder farmers with marketing channels so that even the small and marginalized participants benefit.

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Incoming Board Chair briefed on extensive work in pigeonpea improvement and promotion of new varieties of millets in ESA

Updates on the extensive ongoing research work in pigeonpea improvement, demand for the new sorghum varieties introduced, potential for pearl millet promotion and the several new finger millet varieties released in Eastern and Southern Africa were shared with Dr Nigel Kerby, Incoming Board Chair, ICRISAT, while on a visit to the region.

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74th Governing Board Meeting: Call to strengthen partnerships in drought hit Zimbabwe to benefit smallholder farmers

Increasing and expanding the production of small grains such as legumes and millets is critical to meet the challenges of the severe drought gripping Zimbabwe. This is one of the key messages that emerged from the 74th meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board during 20 to 22 April at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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Indian Ambassador-designate to Zimbabwe visits ICRISAT

Mr R Masakui, Director, External Publicity & Public Diplomacy, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India visited ICRISAT-India on 15 April. Mr Masakui is India’s Ambassador-designate to Zimbabwe and will assume office in Zimbabwe during mid-May. Besides visiting various ICRISAT facilities, Mr Masakui spent some time at ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP), where he was appraised of the AIP initiative on setting up a food testing laboratory in Zimbabwe with the support of the Indian Government. Mr Masakui was briefed about the various activities at ICRISAT, particularly in Zimbabwe, during his meeting with Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General-Research; Dr Kiran K Sharma, Director-Platform for Translational Research & Chief Executive Officer-Agribusiness and Innovation Platform; Dr Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director-Innovation Systems for the Drylands and Dr Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director-Genetic Gains and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics. The meeting concluded with a conference call with Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT. Mr Masakui assured that he would work closely with ICRISAT in Zimbabwe through the Government of India.

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Collaborative effort for an agricultural revolution across Africa

A new pan-Africa mega initiative, ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT)’, was launched recently as an ambitious and bold plan to address poverty, hunger and malnutrition across the African continent.The objectives of TAAT include: scaling up ‘proven’ technologies and innovations; contributing to engendering transformation needed to address the issues and prevent them from worsening; create widespread and real impact on the ground and in many realms including – productivity, food security, market access, income, etc; and assist African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Regional Member Countries derive greater value from agricultural produce.

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Restoring degraded land in the Sahel

A workshop was conducted recently to identify areas for scaling up, by looking at the experiences and analyzing the causes of success and failure of the Restoration of Degraded Lands (RTD) program.As part of the project “Restoration of Degraded Lands for Food Security and Poverty Reduction in East Africa and the Sahel: Taking successes in land restoration to scale”, ICRISAT Niger hosted the workshop.

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‘Leave no one behind’ commits global agricultural research and innovation community

International representatives from key sectors in agri-food research and innovation have pledged to ‘leave no one behind’ by committing to create more opportunities for rural women and youth, to equip tomorrow’s farmers and researchers with the skills they need, and to push for more investment so that rural communities can grow and flourish.

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Strengthening value chain for drought tolerant crops in Kenya

The need for effective branding and marketing of drought tolerant crops is critical in order to change consumer perceptions and attitudes was highlighted at a roundtable discussion on issues affecting marketing and value addition of drought tolerant crops.

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Microdosing – a key proven technology for sub-Saharan Africa

ICRISAT’s first interactive timeline is launched this week showing the story of fertilizer microdosing in Africa. ICRISAT scientists developed the microdosing technique and this story covers the wide variety of initiatives and organizations who further tested and implemented the technology across Africa.Small doses of fertilizer applied in the right place at the right time, combined with an inventory credit system (warrantage) introduced by the FAO supported Intrants project, lead to large benefits in yields and incomes in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Book on climate change challenges and adaptations launched at ICRISAT

Climate Change Challenges and Adaptations at Farm-level – Case studies from Asia and Africa: Emphasizes the importance of farm-level adaptation in mitigating the risks of climate change in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa. It highlights the key issues that arise in farm-level impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and discusses the methodological approaches undertaken in Asia and Africa. Systematically describing the perceptions and aspirations of the farmers themselves, the chapters identify constraints and opportunities. Furthermore, the book discusses livelihood strategies for poor farmers across Asia and Africa. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches are used to understand climate change impacts, adaptation options and vulnerability at crop and household level.

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Modern genomic tools for crop improvement help farmers withstand shocks.

At the first annual meet of the Tropical Legumes III (TL III) the various partners presented revised country work plans along the three broad areas of: gender, breeding and seed systems, and monitoring, learning and evaluation.TL III, being implemented across seven African countries and one country in Asia, is the third phase of a 10-year vision for enhancing productivity of legumes in the drought-prone areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through increasing availability and adoption of improved varieties and associated production

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Modern genomic tools for crop improvement help farmers withstand shocks.

Using modern genomic tools to improve dryland crops – finger millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut – is a top priority for the Government of Karnataka (GoK), India. Through the GoK Genomics Project Consortium, new tools like molecular assisted breeding and genome mapping will be used for improving these crops to withstand drought, insects and diseases.

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Strengthening ties with Kenya

The common interests of the Kenyan government and ICRISAT in improving the nutrition and income of smallholder farmers, involving youth in agriculture, use of information technology and involving private sector in agriculture were explored in a recent meeting between Mr Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

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ICRISAT-Nairobi celebrates Annual Day

Team ICRISAT in Nairobi celebrated the Annual Day on 16 December. The year’s celebrations were different in many ways. First, it was held in a serene environment in Naivasha, some 90 km away from Nairobi, allowing all staff to fully focus and reflect on the achievements of the year. Second, the opportunity strengthened the team by spreading out, cementing holes and creating new bonds. Staff members, together with the extended ICRISAT family, were entertained with different games that bettered the understanding of the concept of teamwork and the ways to establish and sustain effective teams.


ICRISAT chickpea variety released in Ethiopia

A desi chickpea breeding line ICCV 92033 developed at ICRISAT-Patancheru has been released as “Kutaye” in Ethiopia by the Regional Agricultural Research Center, Sirinka of Amhara state. This is the sixth chickpea variety released in Ethiopia from ICRISAT-bred material. A largeseeded kabuli chickpea variety “Chefe” was released last year. The varieties that were released earlier are Mariye, Worku and Akaki in desi type and Shasho in Kabuli type.


AFSTA members learn about CGIAR work

A three-day workshop on Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs): Co-existence of Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM Seeds and a dialogue between members of the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and representatives from the Alliance of Future Harvest Centers of the CGIAR was  from 17 to 19 October at Nairobi.

 


Finger millet workshop in Nairobi

Last week, ICRISAT organized the first ever workshop in Africa devoted solely to finger millet. There were 38 participants from three national programs (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania), regional networks, private milling companies, universities, farmers, NGOs, advanced research institutes, the Department for International Development (DFID), and ICRISAT. The meeting took stock of progress made by recent projects, identified and prioritized outstanding constraints, and outlined R&D strategies for the future.

 


Technologies developed in Malawi reduce drudgery and labor in groundnut
The most labor intensive operations in groundnut production – harvesting, stripping and shelling – have now been mechanized to ease the drudgery and labor of smallholder farmers. Through a consortium which included Compatible Technology International (CTI), Minnesota; Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS), Malawi; and ICRISAT, the equipment that can lift (harvest), strip (remove pods from plants) and shell groundnuts faster and more efficiently than manual processes, was designed and adapted.
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100 Voices update: Youth in Agriculture series launched

In this series speakers talk about the need to get more youth into agriculture and the diverse opportunities that exists for them in this sector.  Having suitable policies, training, education etc., to empower them is essential. View videos here: http://www.icrisat.org/100-voices/ 

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Forging deeper ties with Malawi government
Strengthening its partnership with the Malawi government, ICRISAT contributed 1,400 kg of basic seed of Pilira 1 variety of sorghum for the 2015-16 cropping season. This contribution was made through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security, Malawi. The Pilira 1 is a medium duration variety with a maturity period of 110 to 115 days. It has a yield potential of 2-4 tons per ha. Mr Bright Kumwembe, Deputy Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, while accepting the seeds on behalf of the ministry, underscored the appropriate timing of the seed sharing, as the ministry is trying to advocate crop diversification mostly in drought and flood prone areas.
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International Women’s Day celebrations at ICRISAT
On 8 March, the women staff at ICRISAT, Patancheru came together to celebrate International Women’s Day. The program included interacting with three amazing women on topics of women’s health, work and on child birth.  One of the experts was Dr Sarada, a consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Continental Hospital. She interacted with the women on the topic of women’s health in their 40s and 50s. 
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Global Survey Shows Shortfall in Research Investment in Pulses
Results of the ‘Global Pulse Productivity & Sustainability Survey’ indicates that the annual investment in pulses is about US$175m for the 13 crops in the pulse category, while billions are invested into other crops such as corn. A media release about the report was issued by the Global Pulse Confederation during the Pan African Legume conference in Zambia on 1 March. The survey highlights the concern among leading agricultural research institutions and personnel that the current level of research funding in pulses is too low and may impact efforts to improve food security and agricultural sustainability. 
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Building future agriculture entrepreneurs
Six unemployed South African youth, some having passed only their matriculation, completed their 4-month agricultural training program at ICRISAT-India. Building on the south-south collaboration framework, the initiative, supported by the South African government, is an effort to open up opportunities in the agricultural sector for youth in the region. “This comes at a time when youth development as well as agriculture are top priorities of the South African government,” says Mr Mkhululi Mankazana, South African Minister Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, South African High Commission, New Delhi, India, who presented the completion certificates to the trainees on 7 March at ICRISAT-India.
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Next 100 Voices launched: Women in Agriculture

In this series speakers talk about the challenges women face in agriculture and how suitable policies, training, education etc., can empower them to play a significant role in ensuring food security for their families. This series was launched on International Women’s Day at ICRISAT. View videos here: http://www.icrisat.org/100-voices/ 

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EIAR celebrates its Golden Jubilee
ICRISAT congratulates the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), a major institutional partner in Ethiopia on their Golden Jubilee. ICRISAT has a long history of collaboration with EIAR. Key areas of contribution include providing access to germplasm resources from ICRISAT genebank, developing and sharing of elite parent material, supporting development and release of varieties with tolerance to major biotic and abiotic stresses, contributing to sustainable management of natural resources and intensification of the systems and building research capacity of institutions and individuals.
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Consultations held in Mali and Malawi - Aligning CGIAR interventions with country priorities and agendas
With the objective of integrating the work of various CGIAR institutions across a country, national-level site integration meets were held in Mali and Malawi. The discussions centered around how the CGIAR centers and the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) can better support country level agricultural research for development agendas and priorities; need for integration and mechanisms for resource mobilization. Participants at the 2-day consultations at Mali and Malawi represented the government, NGOs, donors, private sector, farmer groups and CGIAR centers.
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Governing Board meets in Nairobi

The Governing Board (GB) of ICRISAT held its 53rd meeting from 19 to 22 September. The venue this time was Nairobi, Kenya. On 22 September, the GB members including the Management Group and Research Committee met at the campus of ICRISAT’s sister Center, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Prior to the meeting, a dialogue with the press was held, in which 25 journalists from the local and international press (see related story) participated. A field tour was also organized at the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).


Visitor from Syngenta Foundation

Dr Andrew Bennett, Executive Director of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Switzerland, is visiting ICRISAT-Patancheru on 11 and 12 August. Dr Bennett is at Patancheru to get a better understanding of the ICRISAT’s research projects and discuss how the Foundation can work with ICRISAT and partners to increase the use of molecular breeding technologies for sorghum and pearl millet in Africa.


ICRISAT pigeonpea tops popularity in Babati

One of the biggest success stories from ICRISATESA is the wide adoption of pigeonpea technologies by small-holder African farmers in the ESA region. The Babati district (120 km south of Arusha) in Tanzania boasts of 75% technology adoption rate. A team of ICRISAT scientists from ICRISATNairobi, led by Said Silim and including Richard Jones, Bekele Shiferaw, Eastonce Gwata and Mark Winslow, visited Babati from 28 to 31 July.

 


Team Building Day at Bulawayo

ICRISAT-Bulawayo saw an unusual celebration last week – a team building exercise sponsored not by the Institute, but by the scientists. First, the background: Zimbabwe Country Representative David Rohrbach and GTAE leader Steve Twomlow shared the Resource Mobilizer Award for 2004, for their fund-raising efforts in southern Africa. The award was a result of teamwork, they said, and decided to share their prize money with staff at Bulawayo.

 


Radio program inaugurated in Mozambique

An innovative Radio Program has been launched by ICRISAT in Angonia District of Tete Province in Mozambique where ICRISAT is implementing a project to promote market, technology and innovations for improving incomes of poor farmers growing grain legumes in northern Mozambique financed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

 


A better way to fight poverty

ICRISAT supplied 800 kg of groundnut seed comprising three varieties - CG 2, ICGV-SM 99568, and ICG 12991 - all short-duration rosette resistant materials from ICRISAT-Malawi that have been evaluated on-farm in western Kenya and found to be very popular with farmers. Joseph Kibuka an ICRISAT technician, based at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute station at Alupe, trained extension staff and farmers in groundnut agronomy.

 


Training on Global Positioning Systems

ICRISAT-Bulawayo recently acquired several hand-held Global Positioning Systems (GPS). These gadgets make life simpler for field researchers. They tell them exactly where they are; help them find their way to a particular spot; calculate the exact area of an irregularly shaped field. If they need to find a particular house in a village where no street names and numbers exist, to talk to a farmer interviewed last year? No problem, depend on the GPS.

 


DFID team visits ICRISAT-Nairobi

A DFID team consisting of Drs Simon Anderson, Research Manager, and James Tuohy, Deputy Program Manager, from the Social & Political Change and Environment Team, Central Research Department; and Joy Hutcheon, Director, Knowledge and Communications Division, visited CRISAT-Nairobi during 16–19 April.

 


Team ICRISAT rallies to organize African regional workshop

Team ICRISAT in eastern and southern Africa organized the Launching Workshop for Sub- Saharan Africa Challenge Program for the Zimbabwe-Malawi-Mozambique Corridor Pilot Learning Site (PLS) at Lilongwe, Malawi, from 5 to 7 April.

 

 


Partners visit ICRISAT Bulawayo

ICRISAT technologies on soil fertility management and conservation farming are making waves in Zimbabwe. Inexpensive, low-risk technology have been developed and tested, and are now being scaled out in drought-prone areas in southern Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the national agricultural research system and several NGO partners. A team from the Centre for Food, Agriculture and Development (CAFOD), one of our NGO partners, visited the ICRISAT station last week, to observe on-station work at first hand, and pick up tips on how to design and implement trials and demonstration plots.

 


Visit to the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa

Richard Jones and Moses Siambi visited the Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute just outside Pretoria on 17 February to meet with the team that will carry out efficacy testing of the transgene in expressing resistance to the groundnut rosette assistor virus (GRAV) which is a component of the groundnut rosette disease (GRD) complex. This technology, developed by Kiran Sharma and his team in Patancheru has yet to be tested as GRD does not occur in India.

 


Joining hands to help small farmers

A two-day meeting was held at Pemba, Mozambique, on 17 and 18 February, to discuss how public sector agencies can better support private sector’s efforts at developing the smallholder farmers. The meeting was attended by the directors of agriculture, Research, Extension and representatives from the five provincial directorates of agriculture in northern Mozambique, and drew on experiences from ICRISAT and ICRAF working with Mozambique Leaf Tobacco in Tete Province.

 


Farmers and consumers need to be ‘pulse smart’

Pulses are truly magic, offering a win-win-win situation for the farmer, the consumer and the planet. Farmers and consumers globally would benefit by being more ‘pulse smart’. They are multi-functional crops that are good for nutrition and soil productivity, and are dryland crops that need less water and have the potential to weather climate change. Traditionally pulses were an important part of daily diets, particularly in Asia. 

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Eight new seminars in the Take 2 series

Eight new seminars in the Take 2 video series

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Genome code of cultivated groundnut cracked
In a scientific breakthrough that promises accelerated gene discovery and development of improved cultivars, researchers have completed high quality sequencing of the ancestral genomes of groundnut. This will lead to better groundnut varieties with enhanced pod and oil yield, greater resistance to diseases, tolerance to drought and heat, and better oil quality. The groundnut grown today is the result of hybridization between two wild species, Arachis duranensis (V14167, A-genome ancestor) and A. ipaensis (K30076, B-genome ancestor). The hybrid was cultivated by ancient inhabitants of South America.
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Scientists link with policymakers on tackling climate change and variability in Eastern Kenya
Scientists of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) met policy makers to explore future collaboration to address climate change in Kenya. The discussions centered around how to adapt farming systems in the region to current climate change and variability. The guiding documents that were used to direct the discussion were the Makueni County Integrated Development Plan: 2013-2017 and Kenya’s Vision 2030. “Research on appropriate farming technologies including viable crop varieties and livestock breeds is central in helping Makueni achieve food security and alleviate poverty,” said Ms Jane Nzesya, Chief Officer, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Makueni County, who attended the meeting.
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Developing tools and a national taskforce to support appropriate fertilizer recommendation for Ethiopia
Participants at a recent national workshop agreed upon the need to start developing decision support tools for appropriate fertilizer recommendation and a national taskforce to lead this work and ensure inclusivity. Participants felt that a lot of scattered information existed across the country that could be used to create the tools. In an effort to promote soil-test based fertilizer application, soil fertility maps are being prepared for different regions through the Ethiopian Soil Information System (EthioSIS) project. 
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Launching VIDEO BLOG for the International Year of Pulses

Launch of video blog for the 2016 International Year of Pulses.

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Workshop on capacity building in ECA
The McGill University, Montreal, Canada,, in collaboration with the Kegali Institute of Science and Technology, Rwanda, organized a workshop on Capacity building for biotechnology and bio-based products in Eastern and Central Africa. It was sponsored by the International Development Research Centre.

Cutting-edge technology for soil analysis installed in Mozambique
ICRISAT-Mozambique, in a joint project with Instituto de Investigação Agraria de Moçambique (IIAM) (the NARS of Mozambique) to develop good agricultural practices for tobacco farmers funded by the World Bank through Programa Agrario do Ministerio de Agricultura (ProAgri), ordered a multi-purpose soil analyzer. It analyzes the mineral composition, organic matter, water content, carbonates, soluble salts and other compounds in soils without the use of chemical reagents and by the use of infra-red (IR) light. The equipment has been installed in IIAM’s soil laboratory.

Farewell to David Rohrbach
David Rohrbach, Principal Scientist (Economics) and Country Representative of ICRISAT in Zimbabwe, heads out on his annual leave on 6 December and will not be returning to ICRISAT. He will join the World Bank as a Senior Agricultural Economist based in Malawi from 8 January 2007.

Workshop to improve livelihoods in ECA
The Eastern and Central Africa Regional Sorghum and Millet Network (ECARSAM) held its biannual regional stakeholders workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 20 to 22 November. The theme for this year’s meeting was integrating the sorghum and millet sector for increased economic growth and improved livelihoods in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA).

A training program on integrated watershed management
On 23 and 24 October, ICRISAT watershed team organized a training program on integrated watershed management for improving rural livelihoods at ICRISAT-Patancheru. Twenty participants including development groups such as Canadian Baptist Ministers from India, Angola, Kenya, Canada and other countries attended the course.

Ten CGIAR centers develop Oasis strategy in Nairobi
Representatives from the ten CGIAR Centers, who had jointly created Oasis as a CGIAR Systemwide Program to combat desertification, came together in Nairobi from 17 to 19 October for an inception meeting to develop the initial strategy and work plan. This plan is the blueprint for the way forward and will be reviewed by partners and by the CGIAR Science Council.

ICRISAT in ESA spearheads efforts to harmonize seed trade
ICRISAT-Patancheru will host pearl millet scientists’ field day on 14 and 15 September 2006. About 50 to 60 scientists from public and private sector institutions will participate along with members of Team ICRISAT. The field day will provide an opportunity to scientists from partner institutions to select breeding materials, besides interacting and exchanging ideas.

APSIM Refresher Course at ICRISAT-Bulawayo
ICRISAT-Bulawayo organized an internal APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems SIMulator) Refresher Course from 8 to 11 August. John Hargreaves of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (CSE), Australia, and John Dimes of ICRISAT-Bulawayo conducted the course with the funding support from the ACIAR project on Improving fertilizer recommendations and policy for dry regions of Southern Africa.

Developing a strategy to conserve pigeonpea genetic resources
ICRISAT and the Global Crop Diversity Trust organized a consultation meeting on Developing a strategy for the global conservation of pigeonpea genetic resources. The meeting was held on 23 and 24 August at ICRISATPatancheru and was attended by 24 participants including 16 from ICRISAT.

President of Malawi promotes ICRISAT groundnut
On his weeklong visit to Malawi, Director General William Dar met His Excellency Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, the State President of the Republic of Malawi on 23 August. Honourable, MP, and Minister for Agriculture and Food Security presented Dr Dar to the State President.

Meet on research for development in Zimbabwe
An innovative learning workshop titled Biological approaches for crop production and protection was held from 7 August to 12 August. Seventeen participants attended the workshop, which was represented by the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India, private sector and NGOs.

Integrating communications to better achieve objectives

There are very few, if any, objectives that can be achieved without communications. Prioritizing the most critical areas to spend our resources was part of the recent annual meet of ICRISAT communication specialists. Some areas of strategizing included: Approaches to achieve better integration of communications into research projects. Some large projects have now incorporated communications especially to achieve adoption of technologies among farmers as well as developing consumer markets for new end products especially with millets.

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Visitor from CGIAR
Catherine Mgendi, the CGIAR’s Media Specialist located at Nairobi, visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 3 and 4 July. She discussed plans and projects to improve ICRISAT’s media presence in Africa with the Communication Office team. She also met scientists at Patancheru to understand ICRISAT’s research programs.

Improved varieties and market linkages are the key It pays to grow groundnut! Kenyan farmers show the way

Farmers in Kenya growing improved varieties of groundnut are getting more than double the price for their produce. Having attracted a big buyer through their quality produce, the farmers now have an assured market and are getting better prices. With its developed market for confectionery, peanut butter and other products, Kenya has been dependent largely on imports of groundnut from countries such as Malawi and Zambia. This in spite of many regions of the country having the potential to produce more groundnut.

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Field Day in Hwange district, Zimbabwe
Hwange district in Zimbabwe is best known for its wildlife reserve – but soon it could become equally noted for leading the promotion of conservation agriculture in the country. ICRISAT and its partners are implementing a country-wide program to promote conservation farming through demonstrations, on-farm trials and field days.

ICRISATs expertise sought
The UN’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a strong supporter of ICRISAT’s research, and funds the nine-country Desert Margins Program, which ICRISAT is coordinating. ICRISAT will soon strengthen its partnership with the GEF, by playing a key role in several new GEF-funded development projects. The details are yet to be fleshed out, but an excellent beginning was made at a workshop held in Gweru, Zimbabwe.

Seeing is Believing
On 16 March, Said Silim, Director Eastern and Southern Africa, finally got to visit Tsholotsho, one of ICRISAT-Zimbabwe’s long-term benchmark sites. Silim participated in a field day organized by the local district extension office and facilitated by ICRISAT. The objective of the field day was to review experimental plots – where improved crop, soil and water management techniques for sorghum and groundnut are being tried out – for the current (2005/06) season. Farmers are managing the plots, with assistance from national extension staff.

Rehabilitating agriculture after disasters and conflict
The watershed consortium renewed its commitment to work hard to contribute to the efforts of the Team ICRISAT towards mitigation of disasters and to achieving the relevant components of the Millennium Development Goals, on the World Meteorological Day on 23 March.

Review team lauds ICRISATs work on GPG1 project
In 2002, the World Bank agreed to fund the genebanks of 11 CGIAR centers holding germplasm collections under Global Public Goods Rehabilitation Project 1 (GPG1) starting April 2003 and ending March 2006. A panel constituted by the Systemwide Genetic Resources Program recently reviewed the progress made until 2005 of all the 11 genebanks. The reviewers found the GPG1 very successful and lauded the achievements of the ICRISAT genebank.

Small packs, big sales
Few smallholder farmers in the extensive SAT regions of Zimbabwe buy fertilizer. Some complain about that it is unavailable or hard to find. Most argue that fertilizer is too expensive and too risky, in a drought-prone environment. ICRISAT is testing two solutions to this conundrum.

Conservation agriculture catches on
Conservation agriculture is a set of farming practices (mulching, rainwater harvesting maintenance of ground cover, etc) that improves soil fertility, reduces degradation, and enables farmers to use scarce rainwater more efficiently. ICRISAT works with a range of NGOs, with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), UK, to promote conservation agriculture among Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers.

Tanzanian delegation visits Patancheru
A high-level Tanzanian delegation visited Patancheru on 19 January and requested ICRISAT to help in improving agricultural productivity in Tanzania, so that the country can meet its goal of achieving accelerated economic growth. The delegation included HE Ms Eva L Nzaro, the Tanzanian High Commissioner to India; HE Mr CA Sanga, the Tanzanian Ambassador to China; and HE Mr EEE Mtango, the Tanzanian Ambassador to Japan.

Malawi Seed Revolving Fund model wins accolades

The Seed Revolving Fund model developed by ICRISAT (see box) for improving groundnut and pigeonpea seed systems in Malawi was recognized for making a significant impact in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, especially women. Limited access to quality seed of improved, high-yielding and early maturing varieties of groundnut and pigeonpea had resulted in low productivity and poor cash incomes for farmers.

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ICRISAT Day celebrated at Nairobi
ICRISAT-Nairobi celebrated the Institute’s 35th birthday and Annual Day on 11 December, with a staff meeting followed by lunch at the Carnivore restaurant. In proper African tradition, Regional Director Said Silim treated the Nairobibased staff to as much meat as they could eat, which was served from enormous skewers. Everyone enjoyed the festive occasion and the festivities were completed with the presentation of a number of awards and cutting of the 35th anniversary cake.

Sorghum and millets workshop
ICRISAT has been asked by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to facilitate development of a research and development funding proposal intended to increase purchasing power of, and improve food and nutritional security for, smallholder farm families dependant on sorghum- and milletbased crop-livestock production systems in drought-prone areas of South Asia and sub- Saharan Africa.

ICRISAT Day in Zimbabwe
The ICRISAT-Bulawayo team celebrated ICRISAT Day on 7 December. Staff and guests including the local councilor, staff of Matopos Research Station, police and schools gathered at Lunka Lodge, a green retreat outside Bulawayo, wearing their white and green 35th anniversary T-shirts and caps. After forming three groups, staff members competed against each other in matches of futsal, volleyball, relay races and darts to win the ICRISAT cup.

Governing Board meets in Malawi
For the 57th time, ICRISAT’s Governing Board (GB) met in Lilongwe, Malawi on 22-24 October 2007. Malawi hosts one of three ICRISAT country offices in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). Nine members of the GB attended the meeting together with members of the Management Group (MG) and Research Committee (RC). The Chair of the Center Commissioned External Review (CCER) on governance, management and support services (Dr Meryl Williams) also attended the meeting.

ICRISAT incubates agri-business projects in Mozambique
After establishing a successful Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at its global headquarters at Patancheru, India, ICRISAT is initiating a similar incubator in Mozambique, in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM). Director General William Dar and Dr Calisto Bias, Director General of IIAM, signed the Letter of Intent for establishing the Farm Business Incubator in Mozambique on 28 September.

ASP participates in Nanotechnology summit
Agri-Science Park@ICRISAT (ASP) participated in the Fifth Global Knowledge Millennium Summit B2B in Biotechnology & Nanotechnology, organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (ASSOCHAM) at New Delhi from 18 to 21 September. Abdul Rahman Ilyas represented ICRISAT at the Summit as a member of the Andhra Pradesh delegation comprising CEOs of all the science parks in Genome Valley and key government officials.

ICRISAT strengthens collaboration with Ethiopia
ICRISAT’s longstanding collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)was strengthened when Director General William Dar and Dr Solomon Assefa, Deputy Director General of EIAR, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Addis Ababa on 3 October.

Gates Foundation funds ICRISAT legumes work
The $20 million Legumes II project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was successfully launched on 24 September at the New Arusha Hotel in Tanzania. Just under a hundred people from eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa and two in South Asia participated in the meeting.

IFAD grants funding for new projects
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has just approved close to US$9 million in grants to six international centers that conduct agricultural research and development activities in rural regions of poor countries. Two of ICRISAT’s projects were also funded with US$ 1,400,000 and US$ 1,500,000 respectively.

TL-II South Asia workplan meeting begins
DDG-R Dyno Keatinge inaugurated the South Asia Workplan Meeting for Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), on 6 September. Fifty three partners from Myanmar and from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra participated in the meeting along with 25 ICRISAT scientists.

Another leap for crop-livestock development in southern Africa
On 8 August, the European Union office in Zimbabwe confirmed the grant of 1.9 million Euro towards a new project entitled: Improved goat production and market participation for food security and sustainable livelihoods in Zimbabwe. This is a joint project between two NGOs – the Organization for Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP) and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV)); two Zimbabwean government departments (Department of Agricultural Research and Extension (AREX) and the Department of Livestock Production and Development (LPD), and ICRISAT. ORAP is the project coordinator and main budget holder.

CCER Panel Reviews Biotechnology and Crop Improvement Global Themes
The Center Commissioned External Review (CCER) of the Global Themes on Biotechnology and Crop Improvement began in Nairobi on 29 April with preliminary discussions on how the review will be conducted and on the reporting strategy. The Chair of the Review Panel, Dr S Shanmugasundaram, and the other members of the Panel, Dr Clarice Coyne, Oumar Niangado and Jennifer Thomson listened to opening presentations from ICRISAT, specifically presentations from the ESA region.

EUs contributions reviewed at ESA
ICRISAT-Nairobi hosted from 16 to 18 May two consultants - David Coombs and Rudy Ooijen –who are reviewing the European Union’s contribution to the CGIAR. Dyno Keatinge and David Hoisington traveled to Nairobi for the review that focused on the work of the Global Themes on Biotechnology and Institutions, Markets, Policies and Impacts from 2002-2005.

LiLi: Markets Begins in Zimbabwe
A total of 28 participants representing the national research and extension services, farmer organizations, local government authorities, private sector and NGOs gathered at ICRISATBulawayo/ Matopos Research Station on 20– 21 March to attend the LiLi: Markets countrylevel inception workshop in Zimbabwe.

Finger millet can help address malnutrition

Finger millet can play a key role in fighting malnutrition and bringing down the numbers of malnourished children under five years of age. “Finger millet is high in calcium, zinc and iron. Hence it is good for children, young women and breast-feeding mothers. It possesses important amino acids, which help fight malnutrition and degenerative diseases,” said Dr Rhoda Nungo, Food Nutritionist, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) - Alupe Research Centre, Busia.

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Biotech GTL visits Malawi
The Global Theme Leader, Biotechnology, David Hoisington, visited Malawi from 14 to 17th February. This being his first trip it was naturally packed with several engagements – Department of Agricultural Research Malawi, Field Visits to the ICRISAT site and farmers fields, seminars, support to partners (Government of Norway/NASFAM Grant Agreement Signing Ceremony) and finally a relaxing volleyball match.

Keatinge visits ESA labs
After the In-House Review at the ICRISAT East and Southern Africa Regional Office at Nairobi, Kenya, from 2 to 8 February, DDG-R Dyno Keatinge and GTL-Biotechnology Dave Hoisington took the opportunity to visit the ICRISAT Molecular biology lab which is located in the ILRI Campus.

ICRISAT and SCOSA sow the seeds of success in ESA
Responding to great interest shown by stakeholders in Tanzania’s agricultural sector, Richard Jones of ICRISAT-Nairobi traveled to Dar es Salaam in January where he met up with Joe Cortes from Iowa State University (who is a partner under SCOSA) before proceeding to a meeting with Mr Peniel Lyimo, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture Food and Cooperatives.

The Pulse of the Drylands

As the world adapts to climate change, crops once termed ‘orphan crops’ are now attracting attention, especially dryland pulses like pigeonpea and chickpea that have been ICRISAT’s mandate crops for more than four decades. These climate-smart crops help the smallholder farmers in arid and semi-arid regions of the world withstand weather variability, require less water, enrich the soil and are packed with nutrition. These crops provide more nutrition per drop not only for humans and livestock but for soils as well through their nitrogen-fixing properties. 

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ICRISAT takes on new approaches for how corporate websites are used

ICRISAT has re-conceptualized the use of its website and for the start of 2016 made its final launch. ICRISAT now has two corporate websites – one specifically designed for its scientific information (EXPLOREit.icrisat.org) and one that focuses on the big global issues we are working with partners (icrisat.org).

 
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National Chickpea Innovation Platform: Way forward in Ethiopia

Bringing together all actors in the chickpea value chain was a key focus for setting up a National Chickpea Innovation Platform. Other new initiatives include enhancing chickpea productivity and marketing based on the targets of the Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan 2 (GTP2) and enhancing household consumption for nutrition and food security– were discussed at a recent workshop in Ethiopia.

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ICRISAT 43rd Annual Day - Celebrating research achievements, services and partnerships

Year 2015 has been a year of challenge and change. This year’s Annual Awards are all about celebrating people – our strength is the calibre of our people – the quality of our research and committed support staff. In 2016, I look forward to spending more time with the staff and finding ways to best support you. – Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

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India (2015) in pictures - Last in the series of regional roundups

India (2015) in pictures - Last in the series of regional roundups 

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COP21: ICRISAT in international media - Will a radical farming shift save drought-stricken Zimbabwe? A call for climate-smart action

Zimbabwe’s slow recovery from years of economic depression has suffered a terrible blow from recurrent droughts halving the expected production of 742,000 tons of the main staple, maize, this year. It leaves 1.5 million Zimbabweans (16% of the population) without enough food to stay healthy, according to the UN World Food Programme. To make matters worse, because of the ongoing El Niño, meteorologists are predicting the upcoming cropping season to be further marred by below normal seasonal rains in the semi-arid southern region of Zimbabwe (FEWS). 

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Field Notes - Its the ‘time away from home that women consider in Ethiopia
A qualitative study launched by ICRISAT’s Gender Research team to unravel the reasons behind the low turnout of women in agricultural training events in Ethiopia’s Shewa region brought to light important gender issues. Chickpea farming is common in this region besides wheat, teff, barley and faba beans. In the Tropical Legumes III (TLIII) project, the team working on chickpea has a policy whereby every male farmer attending any training event has to be accompanied by his wife.
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Strengthening seed supply chains in Kenya
Underdeveloped seed systems and poor accessibility to seeds has been blamed for the low adoption of improved varieties released over the years in eastern Africa. To counter this, close to 3,500 Kenyan farmers were provided seeds of improved varieties of sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnut and pigeonpea.
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ICRISAT- Bamako and Nairobi celebrate Annual Days
ICRISAT-Bamako celebrated its annual day at le Lagon along the Niger River outside Bamako on 18 December. It was an occasion to look back on a successful year, and to honor staff members who have served the institute for several years.
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Irish Aid assistance to Malawi seed industry
Irish Aid has agreed to provide an additional Euro 250000 over and above the Euro 450, 000 already approved for the Malawi Seed Industry Development Project. This additional funding will be used to increase the production of breeder seeds of short-duration groundnut varieties. These varieties are of the Spanish type and have been developed by Emmanuel Monyo and his team based in Lilongwe. The funding will also help form recommendations on the integration of groundnuts into conservation agriculture.
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Partnering with the media for promoting sorghum and millets
To promote climate smart and nutritive crops like millets and sorghum, 60 science journalists from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were invited for an interaction to learn about these ‘smart foods’. Dr Moses Siambi, Regional Director, ICRISAT Eastern and Southern Africa, briefed the journalists on ICRISAT’s Smart Food initiative. “It’s time to bring traditional foods back on the dining table,” he emphasized, urging the participants to join hands with ICRISAT to raise awareness and create demand for smart food in the region which will benefit the farmers, consumers and the planet.
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Eastern and Southern Africa year (2015) in pictures - First in the series of regional roundups

The Eastern and Southern Africa 2015 highlights in pictures. First in the series of regional roundups.

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ICRISAT co-sponsors Crawford Fund International Conference
Decision makers, diplomats, NGO representatives and scientists gathered in the Parliament House, Canberra, Australia for the Crawford Fund annual conference from 27 to 28 October. The meeting explored ways in which the private sector can engage in international agricultural research, development and extension to benefit the rural poor. ICRISAT was one of the co-sponsors of this event.
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HOPE planning workshop held in Nairobi
A planning workshop for the HOPE Project, ESA was held in Nairobi on 27 and 28 October. The workshop was attended by 45 participants representing National Agricultural Research
Institutes, private sector, NGOs, seed companies and universities. Richard Jones officially opened the workshop on behalf of Said Silim, Director, ESA.
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Ethiopian farmers try out new chickpea variety

At a field day organized at East Belessa, Gondar, to create awareness on Ejere, a chickpea variety that is new to the area, farmers expressed their interest to engage in seed production in the coming season after seeing its performance. The Habru variety, introduced earlier, had increased the productivity of chickpea in East Belessa District from an average of 0.6-0.7 t per ha (for the local variety) to 2.4 t per ha.

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Dissemination of chickpea in Kenyan Rift Valley
Four months ago the Bomet Member of Parliament (MP) Beatrice Kones, Keiyo South MP, Jackson Kiptanui and Eldoret East MP, Margaret Kumar visited ICRISAT-Nairobi to request for promotion of chickpea in Bomet, Keiyo and Eldoret East constituencies. During the deliberations, MP Kones earmarked some money from her Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to promote chickpea in droughtprone divisions such as Longisa and Siongiroi.
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International conference on knowledge management
Communication Director Rex Navarro participated in an international conference to initiate an integrated regional knowledge management (KM)- based sharing of research experiences in agricultural biotechnology in Bangkok, Thailand on 1-2 October.
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Child Nutrition project for ICRISAT
The McKnight Foundation has recently awarded a grant to three institutions, ICRISAT, Compatible Technology International (CTI) USA, and Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), to address the issue of malnutrition in children of Malawi and Tanzania. The project will be led by CTI; a St Paul, Minnesota based nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1981 by a group of food scientists, missionaries and research engineers to address the post-harvest needs of the food chain.
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Tropical Legumes II progress in ESA
The Tropical Legumes II (TL II) annual review and planning meetings of the ESA sub-region for the 2008-09 crop season expressed satisfaction over the progress of the project. The meetings were held in Nampula, Mozambique, and Morogoro, Tanzania, in late August.
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Tropical Legumes-I advances in Kenya
ICRISAT in close collaboration with the Egerton University is now implementing in full swing the Tropical Legumes-I project to improve chickpea productivity in the marginal environments of sub-Saharan Africa. ICRISAT’s Ganga Rao and Peter Kaloki visited the Agricultural Training Centre–Koibatek in August to monitor project activities. Paul Kimurto and Bernard Towett from Egerton University also attended the field visit.
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STOU delegation visits Patancheru
A delegation from the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) in Bangkok, is visiting ICRISAT-Patancheru this week to strengthen partnership with the Institute.

ICRISAT and OU strengthen partnership
ICRISAT signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad, on 21 August, thus strengthening the training and research partnership with one of the three longest-standing partners of the Institute.

Crop Protection Society honors its founding member
The Tropical Legumes II (TL II) Project Coordinator, Tsedeke Abate, was awarded an Honorary Membership to the Plant Protection Society of Ethiopia. This was announced at the 16th Annual Conference of the Society held at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in Addis Ababa on 13 and 14 August. Abate, who was also the DG of EIAR for many years, delivered a keynote address titled Crop Protection Society and Ethiopian Agriculture.

Farmers select chickpea varieties in Tanzania
After their harvest of maize or rice, smallholder farmers of the Victoria Lake Zone, Tanzania, grow chickpea in large areas of black cotton soils (locally called Mbuga) under residual moisture. Chickpea is a source of cash for these farmers but gives low yields and is susceptible to fusarium wilt, except in ICRISAT-adopted villages that worked on earlier projects with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

Strengthening breeding data management for ICRISAT and partners

To strengthen experimental planning, data management and data analysis skills of ICRISAT cereals and legume breeders, technical staff, research scholars and partners in ESA (Nairobi, Kenya and Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia) a series of training-cum-adoption workshops on the Breeding Management System (BMS) of Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) was organized. BMS is a data management tool to help breeders manage their day-to-day activities through all phases of breeding programs. 

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Kenyan farmers urged to adopt climate-smart food production strategies
Various crop production technologies to meet climate change challenges were demonstrated to 200 farmers and several to agricultural officers at a recently held fair to celebrate World Food Day. A message from Dr José Graziano da Silva, Director General FAO, urged farmers to change their food production strategies in view of extreme weather events due to changing climate. The message was read out by Ms Philigona A Ooko, Minister for Agriculture, Siaya County Government, Kenya.
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Kenyan farmers embrace sorghum as a multi-use crop to cope with climate change

In Makueni, a county in Kenya, researchers in the Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) project are working to improve production, profitability and utilization of sorghum. This intervention is important given that the maize crop in this area has failed due to unreliable rainfall, changing weather patterns and maize diseases. “The quantity and frequency of rains is not enough to sustain growth of a maize crop to maturity in Makueni county,” says Mr Nehemiah Mburu, a researcher from Africa Harvest which is a key SMU project implementing partner.

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Zambia releases five new groundnut varieties after seven years

Five new groundnut varieties were released for commercial production in Zambia (see box). These new releases bring the total number of ICRISAT-bred varieties in Zambia to 12. The new releases were made after a gap of seven years. The entire process began in 2011 with evaluation with farmers and other stakeholders where a total of 12 promising varieties were introduced in the eastern province of Zambia. Following two seasons of evaluation, outcomes of the participatory varietal selection and field days revealed farmers’ preference on five varieties based on the attributes listed. 

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Integrating gender across the whole agricultural value chain
ICRISAT has made efforts to take a holistic approach to solutions which have also included a holistic approach to gender integration. This has meant the integration of gender across every stage along the agricultural value chain. The holistic approach works from land and water management all the way through to agribusiness and market development. Every stage requires understanding gender needs and empowering women to contribute more.
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Celebrating World Food Day - Live Twitter Periscope - Contributing to social protection and agriculture

ICRISAT’s core belief that all people have a right to nutritious food and better livelihoods was emphasized by Dr Esther Mwihaki Njuguna, Scientist - Gender Research, during a discussion on 14 October. The theme was – ICRISAT’s role in contributing to social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty. The discussion dwelt on some of ICRISAT’s key work.

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Celebrating World Food Day - Pigeonpea – a life changer for Malawis drought-stricken farmers

In Chambogho in Karonga district in North Malawi, 31-year-old John Msuku and his family insist pigeonpea has transformed their lives. When John first left school, he rushed to the southern city Blantyre to find a ‘proper job’. “My parents wanted me to stay and make a living out of fishing like them. But they had always struggled and I wanted a career where I would not be poor.” Like so many other young people craving the urban dream, John failed to secure a steady income in town. He decided to come back home and try his luck at farming. “I had never thought of agriculture having a business potential.

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Genotyping-by-sequencing workshops in Ethiopia and Nairobi

Technicians and scientists from Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) participated in the hands-on molecular biology workshops organized at Ethiopia and Nairobi. The training focused on preparation of samples for genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) and on how to analyze GBS data. Participants included those already submitting plant samples for GBS, or planning to do so in the near future. he workshops, organized by ICRISAT-ESA genomics team in collaboration with Cornell University, was facilitated by Christine Diepenbrock and Karl Kremling, PhD students from Cornell University. In addition to imparting technical details of GBS, they also shared some tips leading to better results and shorter turn-around time.

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Agribusiness set to revitalize agriculture in Africa

Agribusiness is poised to unlock the potential of agriculture to drive economic growth and reduce poverty in Africa. This was showcased at the first ever African Agribusiness Incubation Conference organized under the umbrella of African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN). The conference also created a platform to promote successful agribusiness ventures, majority of which are run by women and youth in Africa. According to a World Bank report, Africa now earns an average of 24% of its annual revenues from its farmers and their crops.

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Climate-proofed pigeonpea showcased for Kenyan media
ICRISAT-Nairobi organized a press meet at Karaba and Gachoka villages of Mbeere district in Eastern Kenya on 30 July to exhibit climate-proofed pigeonpea varieties grown in farmers’ fields. Thirteen Kenyan media persons representing TV (KBC, KTN, NTV, Citizen, Star), radio (Capital FM) and news agencies (Daily Nation, Standard, IRIN, Reuters, PANA, SciDev) attended the meeting.

Sorghum field day at Miwaleni, Tanzania
ICRISAT-Nairobi, the Tanzania National Plant Genetic Resources Center (NPGRC) and the Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI) based in Arusha are implementing a joint Generation Challenge Program (GCP), which aims at characterizing and identifying sorghum genotypes with drought tolerance for use in breeding. The project is coordinated by HD Upadhyaya and is implemented in Kenya and Tanzania through the ICRISAT-Nairobi cereal program.

Farmers select pigeonpea varieties in Eastern Kenya
The selection of ICRISAT’s medium duration pigeonpea varieties is now in the hands of East African farmers. This was made possible through the three field days, which were organized in farmers’ fields on 21 and 22 July in Mwea (Karaba and Gategi villages) and Gachoka (Gachoka village) divisions of Mbeere district, Eastern Province in Kenya.

Strategic planning process starts
The Institute’s strategic planning process has started. Dave Hoisington, Cynthia Bantilan, Mike Butterfield, Peter Cooper, CLL Gowda, Said Silim and Jupiter Ndjeunga (representing Farid Waliyar) met from 7 to 9 July in a planning retreat at the Safari Park Hotel just outside Nairobi to develop a plan for formulating a new ICRISAT Strategic Plan to 2020.

Pigeonpea Management Training in Kenya
ICRISAT-Nairobi and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) conducted a two-day intensive training program on pigeonpea agronomy and methods for quality seed production at Wote in Eastern Kenya on 30 June and 1 July. Twenty two (22) participants including representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture (9), progressive farmers (11) and other government affiliated institutions (2) took part in the training. The training was one of the activities of the IFAD-funded Treasure Legumes project.

MPs from the Rift Valley visit ICRISAT-Nairobi
Hon Beatrice Kones and Hon Jackson Kiptanui, Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Rift Valley of Kenya, visited ICRISATNairobi on 19 June. It was their first visit to ICRISAT with a specific mission to alleviate poverty and reduce food insecurity in Kenya.

On-farm evaluation of new pigeonpea varieties
New pigeonpea varieties are being evaluated at 69 farms in Southern, Central, Northern and Lakeshore regions of Malawi through the collaborative efforts of ICRISAT-Nairobi, ICRISAT Lilongwe, and Chitedze Agricultural Research Station (CRS) in Lilongwe. Farmers are involved in the participatory varietal evaluation of five medium-duration varieties in all regions and four long-duration varieties in the southern region.

Fifth CEG training course held
The Fifth ICRISAT-CEG training course on Molecular marker technology for crop improvement was held from 18 May to 29 May at ICRISATPatancheru.

Extension officers in Zimbabwe trained on feed and fodder
ICRISAT-Bulawayo held two two-day workshops on 11 May and 14 May to train extension officers on the concept of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and crop residue processing. The training targeted a total of 50 extension workers from six districts in Matabeleland where ICRISAT-Bulawayo is implementing two projects on improving livelihoods through strengthening farmers’ capacity to participate in livestock markets.

Addressing seed shortages in Zimbabwe
Jean-Claude Urvoy and Michael Jenrich from the FAO Emergency Unit, Zimbabwe, visited ICRISAT-Bulawayo on 8 May to get an update on an ongoing seed multiplication project that was started in November 2008.

ICRISAT-BecA holds training on molecular markers
ICRISAT, in close collaboration with Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA), organized a planning meeting and training workshop on Application of molecular marker in crop improvement from 11 to 15 May at the ILRI-BecA Hub in Nairobi, Kenya.

Fifth ICRISAT-CEG course on molecular markers
The fifth ICRISAT-CEG training course on Molecular Marker Technology for Crop Improvement will be held from 18 to 29 May at ICRISATPatancheru. The course will have 21 scientists from the Indian national program (Indian Council of Agricultural Research, state agricultural universities, regional agricultural research stations and other organizations)and 4 scientists from four other countries (Kenya, Ghana, Eritrea and Nepal).

Plant phenotyping training course

A week-long training on high-throughput phenotyping methods offered an opportunity for participants to know about different phenotyping sensors and their application in crop improvement. The course discussed and demonstrated multiple and diverse aspects of plant phenotyping, covering the cell to whole plant scale, including growth-related, as well as physiological and performance-related plant traits.The sessions provided hands-on training on measurement of phenotypic traits by using simple and advanced imaging techniques and image analysis.

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Strengthening capacity within CGIAR to measure project impacts

To develop advanced skills and knowledge for measuring impacts in agricultural research programs a week-long capacity building workshop on Advanced Methods in Impact Assessment was attended by scientists from several CGIAR centers. “The multi-center training workshop brought together social and biophysical scientists from CGIAR centers including ICRISAT, ICRAF, CIP, ICARDA, IITA, CIFOR, Bioversity, World Fish, Africa Rice and IFPRI,” said Dr Kizito Mazvimavi, Head, Impact Assessment Office, ICRISAT.

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Global atlas helps close yield gaps

To help agricultural researchers and policy makers prioritize their efforts to sustainably intensify agricultural systems, the Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas (http://www.yieldgap.org/) that provides location specific information is a valuable tool. It helps breeders and agronomists evaluate the effectiveness of existing crop management practices and figure out agricultural inputs and management interventions that are needed to close the yield gaps for different crops in various countries.

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Finger millet formalized as a mandate crop in ICRISATs research portfolio

Finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.], which figured among the six small millets in ICRISAT’s research portfolio, has now been formally made a mandate crop. This decision was taken at the recent Governing Board meeting. This is an important recognition for a crop which has been an integral part of the institute’s research portfolio. The high nutritive value of finger millet coupled with its ability to thrive under low rainfall and poor soil fertility makes it a ‘climate smart’ crop. The ICRISAT genebank holds nearly 6,000 finger millet germplasm accessions from 24 countries, conserved for use in research and development.

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Said Silim visits Bulawayo
Dr Said Silim, Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, visited ICRISAT-Bulawayo from 20 to 23 April. During his visit, Silim was able to check on the station’s infrastructure and fields, assess staff morale, get an update on the location’s research portfolio and future directions as well as provide a glimpse into how ICRISATBulawayo would be affected by the global changes occurring at the CGIAR level.

Malawi's young farmers sing out loud to support Global Goals

On 25 September, world leaders will commit to the Global Goals for sustainable development including ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and fixing climate change. Malawi’s young farmers sing out loud to show farming can be one way to do this. Their song Kondwa was inspired by the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. ‘I’m 21. Look at me. I’m self-reliant, I buy my own clothes, go to the salon for my hair and I’m a farmer.’ Juliette Harawa, is just one of the many young farmers ready to revolutionize rural Malawi. “The big problem is when the young think farming is just subsistence and traditional. It isn’t. With the right means we can turn it into a modern business,” says Juliette.

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ICRISAT-Bulawayo holds seed production training
On 27 March, around 50 farmers attended a seed production training session at ICRISAT-Bulawayo. The training was organized by Practical Action and Fambidzanai, organizations that aim to empower small-scale farmers.

Sweet sorghum in Mozambique
We are happy to report that sweet sorghum has been approved in Mozambique’s Bio-fuel Policy as one of the sustainable crops along with jatropha, oil palm and sugarcane for bio-energy production in the country. This is partially the result of the work done by ICRISAT in Mozambique.

Kasungu farmers urge ICRISATs continued work
The traditional chiefs in Kasungu District of Malawi urged ICRISAT to continue working in the area for a longer period (beyond the CAREsupported project completion date of December 2010) to allow more farmers to benefit from its interventions. These remarks were made on 7 April during the visit of CLL Gowda to oversee ICRISAT‘s support to CARE-Malawi for technological interventions to improve livelihoods of vulnerable and food insecure groups in three Traditional Authority areas of Central Malawi.

ICRISAT-Bulawayo commemorates womens day
To commemorate the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace on 8 March, Mrs Irene Tapela, ICRISAT-Bulawayo’s Gender and Diversity Associate, invited two speakers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to discuss the issue of domestic violence in Zimbabwe with staff members.

ICAR-ICRISAT scientists discuss partnership schemes for CRPs
Unprecedented challenges translate to unprecedented opportunities.With the recent food and financial crises painting a grim picture for food and nutrition security in the developing world, a changing institutional landscape is forming in international agricultural research.
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Fostering agribusiness partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa
The inaugural meet of the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) was held at the Forum of Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Accra on 19-20 April.
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Climate Change project launched in Kenya
ICRISAT, in partnership with the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Zimbabwe Meteorological Department (ZMD), Midlands State University (MSU) and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, held an inception meeting for a climate change related project on 28 February and 1 March in Naivasha.
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HOPE Project Management Team meets in Naivasha, Kenya
The Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) Project Management Team held a two-day meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, on 1-2 March, followed by a field day at the KARI-Kiboko Field Research Station on 3 March. The meeting sought to review year 1 project activities, determine how unmet objectives can be realized in year 2, and ensure that the project as a whole is on track.
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Kenyan farmers embrace improved sorghum cultivars and explore its use as fish feed

Farmers in eastern Kenya are taking to sorghum cultivation to tide over poor harvests of maize. Since many of the farmers are also into aquaculture, they are evaluating sorghum varieties which are suitable as fish feed. Most famers experience food shortages due to their reliance on maize. But farmers who plant sorghum and pearl millet always get a harvest even with the lightest rains. 

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AGRA and ICRISAT identify key areas of collaboration
Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) ICRISAT last Tuesday and was warmly received by Director General William Dar and senior staff members. Dr Ngongi visited the Institute to discuss ongoing collaborative projects between AGRA and ICRISAT and to identify key areas for further collaboration.
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DG attends IFPRI-2020 Conference on health and nutrition
Joining hands in addressing the global issues of health and nutrition, Director General William Dar actively took part in the IFPRI-2020 Conference focusing on Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health, from 10 to 12 February at New Delhi. Organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the conference was attended by over 900 delegates and more than 150 leading figures from agriculture, nutrition, health, and other related sectors.
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Four chickpea varieties released in Tanzania
In a landmark release, the National Variety Release and Seed certification Committee and Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) in a meeting on 31 January and 1 February in Arusha, released two desi varieties of chickpea (ICCV 00108 and ICCV 97105) and two kabuli varieties (ICCV 00305 and ICCV 92318) for cultivation in the Lake and Northern Zones. This is the first set of officially released chickpea varieties in Tanzania.
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ICRISATs improved chickpea varieties for Kenyan farmers
Kenya is one of the target countries under Tropical Legumes I and II projects of ICRISAT for improving productivity through drought tolerance, access to new varieties and quality seed of chickpea. The key partners involved in these projects are Egerton University and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Njoro.
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Malawi Releases Medium Duration Pigeonpea Variety
The Government of Malawi, through its Agricultural Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC), officially released medium duration pigeonpea variety ICEAP 01514/15 for use on 18 January. The variety, the result of long, patient and diligent team work between researchers at ICRISAT-Nairobi, ICRISAT-Malawi and the Chitedze Research Station at Lilongwe, Malawi, will be used for cultivation in intercropping systems of maize, groundnut and soybean in Central and Northern regions of Malawi.
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ICRISAT-Niamey participates in international forum on ‘Youth & Green Jobs
The Government of the Republic of Niger and the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) organized an international forum on ‘Youth & Green Jobs’ held on 16-20 January in Niamey under the joint patronage of the President of the Republic of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou and the General Secretary of the Francophonie H.E. Abdou Diouf.
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ICRISATs social scientists hold annual meeting in Nairobi
With ICRISAT’s IMOD strategy aimed at helping subsistence farmers move towards greater market orientation, the challenge for social scientists has become greater than ever. Working within multi-disciplinary research teams, especially under the new CGIAR Research Programs, the demand is for them to address related research concerns, develop innovations and tap regional and global resources.
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ICRISAT-HOPE project facilitates sorghum trade on behalf of farmers in Tanzania
Highlighting the power of markets to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, ICRISATHOPE project partners in Tanzania negotiated a forward contract agreement for the purchase and supply of 200 tons of sorghum grain between the Kwamtoro Farmers’ Sacco and the Dunia Trust Ltd, a commodity trading company. Spearheaded by Tanzania’s Department of Research and Development (DRD), District Agricultural and Livestock Development Office (DALDO) and ICRISAT, the meeting was held in Kwamtoro in Kondoa District on 27 January.
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Sorghum production set to perk up in Rombo District, Tanzania
It all began when Mr Michael Shirima, owner of Precision Air (a regional airline company in Tanzania), on hearing about the improved Macia sorghum being promoted by the ICRISAT-HOPE project, bought 30 kg of seed from Suba-Agro, a private seed company in Tanzania. He planted it on 8 acres of his land in October-November 2011. Next to the sorghum crop, he also seeded a field of maize. At harvest time, the sorghum crop was successful but the maize crop failed.
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ICRISAT and Africa Harvest team up in “Sorghum for Multiple Uses” project
ICRISAT, Africa Harvest and partners in Kenya and Tanzania have joined hands to improve the livelihoods of resource-poor, smallholder farming households in rural areas in both countries by developing sorghum varieties and its value chain for multiple uses. This will be carried out through a project titled “Development of a robust commercially sustainable sorghum for multiple uses (SMU) value chain in Kenya and Tanzania” to be funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
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IPR awareness orientation for Zimbabwe and Malawi staff
Mr B Hanumanth Rao, Manager, Intellectual Property (IP) visited Bulawayo and Lilongwe recently to raise IP awareness among staff in Africa, in line with ICRISAT’s strategy to strengthen IPmanagement capabilities.
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ICRISAT-HOPE Project Management Team meets in Zanzibar, Tanzania
The ICRISAT-HOPE project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), held its 5th Project Management Team (PMT) meeting on 9-10 March in Zanzibar, Tanzania, to review the project’s progress across the six objectives and the recommendation of the Addis Ababa meeting. The meeting was chaired and facilitated by Project Coordinator George Okwach, and attended by Principal Investigator (PI) Said Silim, Dr Yilma Kebede of BMGF, and the six project objective leaders (Drs Nareppa Nagaraj, SK Gupta, Henry Ojulong, Alastair Orr, Mary Mgonja, and Kirsten Von Brocke).
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ICRISAT-HOPE Project Management Team meets in Zanzibar, Tanzania
The ICRISAT-HOPE project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), held its 5th Project Management Team (PMT) meeting on 9-10 March in Zanzibar, Tanzania, to review the project’s progress across the six objectives and the recommendation of the Addis Ababa meeting. The meeting was chaired and facilitated by Project Coordinator George Okwach, and attended by Principal Investigator (PI) Said Silim, Dr Yilma Kebede of BMGF, and the six project objective leaders (Drs Nareppa Nagaraj, SK Gupta, Henry Ojulong, Alastair Orr, Mary Mgonja, and Kirsten Von Brocke).
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AGRA President visits ICRISATs Soil Health Project in Malawi
The President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Namanga Ngongi, visited the Soil Health Project titled “Upscaling of Pigeonpea in Central Region of Malawi” on 1 March, to see first hand how the project is benefiting smallholder farmers affiliated with the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM).
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NASFAM CEO visits ICRISAT-Patancheru
Mr Dyborn Chibonga, CEO, National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM), visited ICRISATPatancheru on 21-23 March. During his visit, Mr Chibonga met with DG William Dar, DDG-R Dave Hoisington, RPD Grain Legumes CLL Gowda, and other senior ICRISAT staff.
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Farmer exchange visits in Zimbabwe
Embracing Seneca’s words that “Travel and change of place share new vigor to the mind,” ICRISAT-Bulawayo recently organized an exchange visit of farmers in Zimbabwe through the Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF). The CPWF aims to improve the integrated management of rainwater to improve smallholder productivity and livelihoods and reduce risk in the dry areas of the Limpopo Basin.
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SIMLESA regional review and planning meet held in Arusha
The annual regional review and planning meeting of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-funded Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) project was held at Arusha, Tanzania on 19-23 March to review the progress made during year 2 and devise work plans for year 3 by each participating NARS. During the deliberations, the mid-term review team headed by Greg Edmeades was also present.
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Philip Ikeazor calls for boosting Nigerias groundnut production to export levels
In July 2012, Philip Ikeazor will complete his second and final three-year term on the Governing Board of ICRISAT.
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ICRISAT-HOPE trains farmers on sorghum and finger millet productivity and marketing
ICRISAT-HOPE project activities have been implemented along with partners in five districts of Tanzania – Rombo, Kondoa, Singinda, Iramba and Kishapu – with the aim of enhancing household incomes by improving productivity and marketing of sorghum and finger millet.
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ABI-ICRISAT leads in setting up UniBRAIN agri-incubators in Africa
ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program has partnered with the Universities Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in setting up six Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortium (AIIC) in five African countries through an initiative of the Africa Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Each AIIC consists of a university, a business, and a research partner.
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ICRISAT-HOPE project annual planning meeting held in Ethiopia
The annual ICRISAT-HOPE project review and planning meeting for Ethiopia was held on 27 and 28 April, at the Melkassa Agricultural Research Center in Nazareth. Led by national coordinator Alemu Trifessa, the meeting was attended by key project implementers from the districts of Guungua, Kobo, Bahirdar, Melkassa, Bako, Diga, Mieso, Shala and Gisangu. ICRISAT was represented by Eric Manyasa.
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Work/Life Fulfilment Integration workshop held in ESA
Happiness psychology, Theory U, appreciative enquiry, the power of positivity and synchronicity were some of the themes discussed during a workshop on Positive Work/Life Integration held in Naivasha, Kenya, from 10-11 May, in which ICRISAT staff from the three ESA locations of Nairobi, Lilongwe and Bulawayo participated. Regional Director for ESA Dr Said Silim welcomed the participants and enjoined them to learn and then apply the new learned skills back on the job.
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ICRISAT showcased at Europe Day celebration in Kenya
ICRISAT-Nairobi had the opportunity to showcase its research activities that are supported by the European Union and its member states on 9 May, at the Europe Day Celebration and exhibition. Hosted by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya under the theme ‘Research for Development’, the event was organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya. ICRISAT as one of the partners of the European Union, was invited to put up a booth.
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Sorghum and legume-based systems project meetings held in Khartoum
The Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) of Sudan in collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), organized a Performance Monitoring and Planning (PMP) and country inception meetings on the project “Sustainable intensification of sorghum-legume-based systems for food security and feed to improve livelihoods and adaptation to climate change in semi-arid areas of East and Central Africa (ECA)” from 24-30 April in Khartoum, Sudan.
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Enhancing capacity of extension officers in Kenyan drylands

To bridge the gap between research and information dissemination to smallholder farmers, extension officers were trained on integrated agronomic management of chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sorghum and finger millet for enhanced yields. The training was held from 9-12 June at Egerton University’s Dryland Research Training and Ecotourism Centre, Chemerron, located in the dryland county of Baringo. 

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Protecting and improving productivity of fragile landscapes in Ethiopia

Increasing agricultural productivity while improving the ecosystem and managing the fragile landscape around Logo Haik (Lake Haik) of the Amhara region in Ethiopia was the key issue discussed at a workshop that brought together policy makers, researchers, development partners and academic institutions in the region.

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TL II holds ESA regional review and planning workshop
The Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regional review and planning meeting of the Tropical Legumes II project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) was held at Nampula, Mozambique on 11-14 April.
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First marker-assisted bred sorghum varieties released for cultivation by farmers in sub-Saharan Africa
This past week, the National Crop Variety Release Committee in Sudan approved the release of four Striga-resistant varieties in the genetic backgrounds of popular, but Strigasusceptible, improved sorghum varieties “Tabat”, “Wad Ahmed” and “AG8”. These four experimental varieties released are “ASARECA.T1” (T1BC3S4); “ASARECA.W2 Striga” W2BC3S4; “ASARECA.AG3” AG2BC3S4; and “ASARECA.AG4” (AG6BC3S4).
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ICRISAT-IFAD Sorghum Multipurpose Use project holds inception meeting in Tanzania
ICRISAT in partnership with Africa Harvest (AH) and the NARS initiated the IFAD-funded Sorghum Multipurpose Use= (SMU) project to improve access to well-adapted and higher yielding sorghum varieties and agronomic practices for enhanced household food security and incomes in Kenya and Tanzania.
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ICRISAT-aWhere data management project kicks off
Scientists from the ICRISAT-HOPE and Tropical Legumes II projects held an ICRISAT-aWhere data management project kick-off meeting in Nairobi on 8 June. This is following an agreement between ICRISAT and aWhere Inc to use the aWhere data management platform for the HOPE and TLII projects (both funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) for collating, analyzing, and sharing data and information with partners, and to allow BMGF Program Officers to monitor the project activities virtually.
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ICRISAT hosts ‘Global Yield Gap Atlas workshop
ICRISAT hosted the international kick-off workshop of the “Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas” project, which took place in Naivasha, Kenya on 6-8 June. The project was initiated by the University of Nebraska and Wageningen University, in partnership with ICRISAT, Africa Rice and IRRI.
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Workshop on molecular marker applications for national program partners in ESA Participants
The CAPACITATE East Africa project, supported by the European Union, aims to increase the capacity of crop research in East Africa in order to produce improved, well-adapted, farmer-acceptable crop varieties as well as to enhance food security. To this end, a training workshop was conducted by ICRISAT in Nairobi at ILRI/BecA from 29 May to 6 June.
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SIMLESA team monitors project progress in Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the targeted countries under the SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa) project operating in two diverse agro-ecologies in five districts of the northern (Karatu, Mbulu) and eastern zones (Kilosa, Gairo and Mvomero). Maize-pigeonpea intercropping system is one of the common cropping systems in these target districts.
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Syngenta to expand presence in Africa, contributing to the transformation of agriculture
Syngenta announced on 18 May in Basel, Switzerland a commitment to build a $1 billion business in Africa over the next 10 years. This commitment reflects the company’s belief that Africa has the resources not only to feed its growing population, but also to become a major world food exporter.
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Pearl Millet-Legumes Innovations Project meeting held in Nairobi
The declining competitiveness of grain production and marketing in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a major cause of the acute food insecurity and poverty experienced by a majority of households in the region. With a view to identifying, test-adapting and disseminating existing improved technologies to enhance productivity of pearl millet-legumes systems and identify and overcome bottlenecks along the pearl millet value chain, the ICRISATASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa) Pearl Millet-Legumes Innovations Project  held a project monitoring plan (PMP) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 21-24 May.ICRISAT has a backstopping role in the project in addition to providing pearl millet germplasm, breeders seed and baseline survey tools.
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Smallholder farmers field day held at Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania
The Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) based at Arusha, in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and ICRISAT, organized a farmers’ field day on 25 June at Kwa Amanzi area, Kyomu village in Moshi District, Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania. The activity aimed to promote the scaling up of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) practices such as using improved maize and pigeonpea seed, P fertilizer microdosing, and conservation agriculture.
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ICRISAT-HOPE holds finger millet field day in western province of Kenya
ICRISAT, along with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and its local agricultural office, organized a finger millet field day on 23 July in Matungu in Mumias District in the western province of Kenya, to demonstrate to farmers the benefits of improved varieties, management technologies, value-added products for use in the household and for sale, seed and market accessibility channels, and profitability of finger millet production in comparison to sugarcane and maize.
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ICRISAT-HOPE holds farmers field days in Kenya
At the KARI Alupe station, ICRISAT-HOPE along with partners in Kenya organized a national field day on 21 July, attended by 231 participants composed of researchers from ICRISAT-Nairobi, NARO-Uganda, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Egerton University; officials of the Ministry of Agriculture; processors; agro-dealers; NGO officials; and farmer representatives from all HOPE project areas in Kenya.
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ICRISAT-HOPE holds forum for processors and farmers
On 25 July, the ICRISAT-HOPE project organized a market linkage forum for 12 representatives of 6 farmer groups (Wamama Tuamue, Osipata Mabati, Umoja, Aremit Upendo, Mukhula, and MARPA) and 2 local processors (Momagy and Easrcom Enterprises) from Busia town, Busia county, western Kenya.
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ICRISAT-aWhere data management design workshop held at Nairobi
The ICRISAT-aWhere data management team comprising of Objective leaders and scientists of the Tropical Legumes II and ICRISAT-HOPE projects, KSI and aWhere inc. teams participated in an onsite design workshop on 8-10 August at ICRISATNairobi, a follow up to the onsite and three virtual meetings held earlier.
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AIP-ICRISAT to help set up Food Testing Laboratories in 5 African countries
The Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) at ICRISAT has been selected by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India, as the implementing agency to set up Food Testing Laboratories (FTLs) in five African countries. The FTLs are being funded by the Government of India under schemes that were announced by the Prime Minister of India at the 2nd India‑Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-II).
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“Intensificationability” for smallholder households
While scientists focus on technologies that would increase productivity and yields, farmers are more concerned with the benefit cost ratio of adopting these new technologies. Costs are incurred with increased yield, so higher yield does not necessarily mean more returns.
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Collaborative legume projects with IFAD and AGRA launched in ESA
The EU-IFAD-funded project “Enhancing productivity of groundnut and pigeonpea cropping systems in Tanzania and Uganda” and the AGRA-funded project on “Improving soil fertility, productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda by intensifying and diversification of pigeonpea cropping systems” were launched in Nairobi, Kenya, on 14-15 August.
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Communication project on aflatoxin mitigation begins in Malawi
Transforming a new innovation into local knowledge and common practice has proven to be a rather complex process. In an attempt to bridge this gap, the Innovative CommunicationMedia and Methods for More Effective Aflatoxin Mitigation in Groundnut (ICMM) in Malawi and Tanzania project will assess the role of communication in influencing the process of change that leads from awareness to understanding to desirable, sustainable action. 
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ICRISAT promotes public-private partnerships
We at ICRISAT are pleased that the World Agricultural Forum (WAF) Congress with the theme of reshaping agriculture for a sustainable future is going to be held on our doorstep in Hyderabad in 2013. If we seriously want things to change, and the world’s smallholder farmers to grow more and diverse food and improve their lives, then public-private partnerships are part of the solution. ICRISAT knows how powerful partnerships have been in ensuring that their research has a real impact on the lives of the poor in the arid and semi-arid regions. Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama have both recently stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in reducing malnutrition in Africa and Asia.
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Planning ESA country strategies

ICRISAT ESA scientists are in the process of framing country strategies for Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The overall goal is to improve productivity, profitability and utilization of ICRISAT mandate crops – sorghum, millets, groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea in the region.

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ICRISAT and ICAR to host international conference on legume genetics and genomics
ICRISAT in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is hosting the VI International Conference on Legume Genetics and Genomics (ICLGG) at the Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre on 2-7 October. This conference is part of a series of ICLGG conferences held previously in the USA (I & V), France (II), Australia (III) and Mexico (IV), and the first being organized in Asia. The VI ICLGG is a continuous effort of a mission to bring together scientists working on legume biology in model species, using genetic and genomic tools, with those working on applied aspects and breeding of crop and pasture species.
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ICRISAT the best hope for poor farmers in the drylands
“ICRISAT represents the best hope of farmers in the semi-arid tropics, crucial for the economic prosperity and food and nutritional security of the dryland poor,” according to Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister, Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina.
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Review and planning workshop for ICRISAT-HOPE project held in Arusha
ICRISAT in partnership with Tanzania’s Department of Research and Development (DRD) held a review and planning workshop for the HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement) project on 2-3 October in Arusha, Tanzania. The meeting was attended by 25 extension staff and 12 farmers from the five project mandate districts of Kondoa, Singida, Iramba, Kishapu and Rombo. Also in the meeting were participants from the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI); Agricultural Research Institutes (ARI) in Hombolo, Ilonga and Uyole; Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA); and ICRISAT.
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Anniversary celebration in ESA
The ICRISAT Nairobi team celebrated the Institute’s 40th founding anniversary on 5 October at the Enashapai Resort and Spa in Naivasha with fun and leisure activities that included sumptuous meals, a guided wild animal park tour, gala dinner, presentation of awards, dance competitions, music and raffle ticket draws.
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Steering Committees of CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and on Grain Legumes meet in Nairobi

Members of the Steering Committees of the CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Cereals and on Grain Legumes, both led by ICRISAT, met for the second time in Nairobi on 1 and 2 November. The steering committees provide overall strategic direction, inputs for enhancement of operation and building strategic alliances with partners, and monitor the progress of the programs. Its members include the Director Generals (or designates) of the CGIAR centers, donor representatives and other partners.

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New sorghum and finger millet cultivars ready to take off in Malawi

Three early-maturing sorghum cultivars are in the process of getting released in Malawi, while the introduction of three finger millet varieties selected by farmers are expected to resurrect a crop that has ‘disappeared’ in the southern region of the country. The three sorghum varieties earmarked for on-farm testing and release – KARI Mtama 1, R8602 and IESV 23006 DL – are suitable for food and for brewing beer.

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CLL Gowda bags International Crop Science Award
Dr CL Laxmipathi Gowda, Research Program Director - Grain Legumes, received the 2012 International Service in Crop Science Award during the Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) on 23 October at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
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Partnering for Communications: In Pictures

Partnering for Communications: In Pictures.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   .

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Pioneering partnership for science communications to boost food security and improved livelihoods in the drylands

A dynamic and new partnership to better communicate agricultural scientific advancements and impacts promises to build the capacity of national organizations to use communication tools and approaches in helping achieve food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods in the dryland tropics. In a pioneering and unique initiative, communication and scientific specialists from nine countries and from different ICRISAT locations have come together in a week-long workshop held in Arusha, Tanzania, 25-28 November, to set up the communication partnership.

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Pioneering partnership for science communications to boost food security and improved livelihoods in the drylands

A dynamic and new partnership to better communicate agricultural scientific advancements and impacts promises to build the capacity of national organizations to use communication tools and approaches in helping achieve food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods in the dryland tropics. In a pioneering and unique initiative, communication and scientific specialists from nine countries and from different ICRISAT locations have come together in a week-long workshop held in Arusha, Tanzania, 25-28 November, to set up the communication partnership.

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Feasibility for commercializing groundnut postharvest machinery in Zambia assessed

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) along with ICRISAT conducted a scoping study to assess the feasibility of commercializing groundnut postharvest machinery in Zambia, from 28 October to 6 November. CRS received a grant under Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation cooperative agreement to scope the commercial pilot-testing of Compatible Technology International’s (CTI) suite of groundnut post-harvesting tools in the country.

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Training on biometrics and bioinformatics tools in crop improvement held in Kenya

“The application of biometrics and bioinformatics is essential for crop improvement,” said Dr William D Dar, ICRISAT Director General, speaking at opening of a six-day training program held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 4-9 November. The training program was aimed at building capacity of ICRISAT and the National Agricultural Research and Extension System (NARES) scientists, technicians and research scholars in the use of statistical analysis methods, bioinformatics and data management software to ensure soundness of deliverables and to improve quality of research and reporting.

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Annual social scientists meet highlights integrating social dimension in research

The unique value of social scientists to ICRISAT’s research was emphasized during the Annual Social Scientists’ Meet conducted by the ICRISAT Research Program on Markets, Institutions and Policies at Mount Kenya in Nairobi on 10-12 November.

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Research Program Director, Dryland Cereals, visits Alupe station

Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director, Dryland Cereals, visited the ICRISAT station housed at KARI-Alupe, Kenya, on 28-29 October. During her visit, she met Mr Lazarus Kisuya from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) who detailed the history of KARI-Alupe and explained the effective collaboration with ICRISAT from 1982 to date. He appreciated ICRISAT’s contribution to the station, which includes the introduction of germplasm of different crops, variety and technology testing and capacity building. He underlined the need for an irrigation system at the facility.

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Groundnut value chain and gender stakeholder workshop held in eastern Zambia

ICRISAT Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) in collaboration with Eastern Province Farmers’ Cooperative organized a two-day stakeholder workshop on groundnut value chain and gender in the first week of November in Eastern Zambia. The meeting conducted for various actors along the value chains covering both public and private sectors, focused on delineating the gender disaggregated value chains of groundnut-based products and identifying gender sensitive value chain promotion strategies in the region.

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ICRISAT gets ‘Best Incubator Award at FOOD 360o

ICRISAT was awarded the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry FOOD 360oAward in the Best Incubator category at the third edition of FOOD 360o (International conference-cum-exhibition on Agribusiness and Food Processing) held on 6-7 November in Hyderabad, India.

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Knowledge Day to refine Value for Money proposition of CGIAR Research Programs

With a view to refining the value for money (VfM) proposition of the CGIAR Research Programs in terms of economy, efficiency, effectiveness, equity and gender mainstreaming, the CGIAR Fund Office organized a Knowledge Day on 5 November in Nairobi, Kenya. The event brought together many of the CGIAR Research Program Directors, Directors General, and members of the Consortium Office and the Fund Council to discuss key matters of relevance to the operation of CGIAR as a whole and the Research Programs in particular.

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External Review Panel on ICRISATs strategy in sub-Saharan Africa visits Nairobi and Mali offices

As recommended by the Governing Board at its meeting in Senegal in April 2013, a Center Commissioned External Review (CCER) Panel of experts is reviewing ICRISAT’s strategy for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The Panel composed of Drs Bob Redden, Curator of the Australian Temperate Crops Collections, Victoria as Chair; Jennie Barron, Senior Researcher, Stockholm Environment Institute; Mamadou Ouattara, Director, Graduate Studies Department, WASCAL; and  Ruth K. Oniang’o, Editor-in-Chief, African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development and Founder, Rural Outreach Program (ROP) Africa as members was in Nairobi and Bamako recently.

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ICRISAT opens Ethiopia country office - Creating a stronger partnership for sustainable agricultural development

“Our government has placed high priority on the development of the drylands and ICRISAT with its mandate to enhance agricultural productivity in the drylands is well placed to contribute to this initiative,” said Honorable Wondirad Mandefro, State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia. He welcomed the decision by ICRISAT to open a country office in Ethiopia, highly appreciating past contributions by the Institute in enhancing the productivity of sorghum and chickpea crops and the profitability and sustainability of smallholder agricultural systems in the country.

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ICRISAT innovations showcased at crop science society conference in Uganda

Innovations showcased by ICRISAT at the 11th African Crop Science Society Conference held in Uganda on 14-17 October included new resilient and highly productive crop varieties developed in partnership with farmers and national agricultural research organizations, ways of strengthening seed systems for informal and formal sectors, and knowledge and innovation dissemination approaches focusing on farmers as learners and trainers. The theme of the conference was “Sowing innovations for sustainable food and nutrition in Africa.”

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Working towards a CGIAR Capacity Development Community of Practice

Identifying principles and building blocks for a CGIAR capacity development strategy was the focus of a workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya on 21-25 October. A key output of the workshop was the launch of the CGIAR Capacity Development Community of Practice (CoP) to foster mutual learning, co-creation, sharing of best practices, and advocacy for a capacity development across the CGIAR system.

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Training program on impact assessment of research and development projects for up-scaling and higher impacts

Impact assessment of new technologies/innovations and measuring their contributions in improving the welfare gain of smallholder farmers is a challenging task. ICRISAT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) jointly organized a training program on “Impact assessment of research and development projects for up-scaling and higher impacts” at the ICRISAT gheadquarters on 27-30 November. 

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CGIAR doubles funding to $1 billion in five years

CGIAR, the world’s largest agriculture research partnership, announced its funding has doubled from $500 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2013. Officials say harvesting the fruits of this historic commitment could, among other benefits, lift 150 million people in Asia out of poverty by boosting rice production, provide 12 million African households with sustainable irrigation, save 1.7 million hectares of forest from destruction, and give 50 million poor people access to highly nutritious food crops.

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Tropical Legumes II project boosts crop yields in Tanzania

Tanzania is witnessing a sharp increase in the area under tropical legumes and their productivity. Technologies and linkages developed during Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project implementation have been the catalysts in the growth process. Since its inception, TL II has helped expand pigeonpea area across the country from 125,000 ha in 2008 to 288,160 ha by 2011. 

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International agricultural institutes lay emphasis on community seed production system

With focus on finding means and ways to involve smallholder farmers in seed production, a three-day “Expert Consultation Workshop on Community Seed Production” was held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 9-11 December. Seed system support in developing countries has always emphasized on strengthening public sector institutions including agricultural research centers, extension services, and state-owned seed corporations. 

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Workshop on experimental design and data analysis held in Nairobi
ICRISAT’s Biometrics Unit conducted a workshop on experimental designs and data analysis for ICRISAT-HOPE and TL-II project partners on 15-19 October in Nairobi, Kenya. This workshop was attended by a total of 35 participants including scientists and scholars from 9 countries. The workshop was mainly on the basics of statistical concepts, data cleaning, and data handling and analysis. Participants were exposed to various techniques for diagnostic measure of data sets and pooling of data sets across locations and time. The software for the training was GenStat 15th Edition and Discovery Edition.
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ICRISAT-HOPE Project Management Team meets in Nairobi
The ICRISAT-HOPE Project held its 6th Project Management Team (PMT) Meeting on 11 October in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting served as the second bi-annual progress review for the year 2012, following the one held in Zanzibar in March this year. It aimed to determine the project’s progress in achieving planned targets and ensuring overall goals. The team deliberated on the plans and modalities for developing target country strategies for the mandate crops.
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Paving the pathway to a Green Revolution
ICRISAT initiated microdosing in 2003- 04 as part of a drought relief package that targeted vulnerable households. Since then microdosing has been promoted by various organizations and NGOs in Zimbabwe. Over the years ICRISAT and other stakeholders have produced and distributed educational pamphlets on microdosing and conservation agriculture in English as well as in two major indigenous languages of Zimbabwe.
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Crop-livestock integration project launched in Zimbabwe
The new project on “Integrating cropsand livestock for improved food security and livelihoods in rural Zimbabwe” was launched recently in Harare. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), this project will bring together three Consortium Centers (ICRISAT, ILRI and CIMMYT), CSIRO, the Australian National Science Agency, as well as various Zimbabwean stakeholders to address crop-livestock integration for better livelihoods and greater food security.
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Sharing experiences in watershed management research
Watershed management plays an important role in promoting sustainable intensification of agricultural systems to overcome chronic food insecurity and low agricultural incomes in the semi-arid areas of Eastern and Central Africa (ECA).
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Promoting resilience and profitability for smallholder farming systems in Mozambique
Tropical drylands are too often seen as hopelessly poor, perennially beset by shocks such as drought, trapping communities in poverty and hunger. Building resilient and profitable livelihood systems, however, can turn this around and make dryland farmers ingenious and resourceful. When enabled by scientific innovations, supportive policies and strong partnerships, farmers can increase the productivity of their crops and their incomes by several-fold, while improving the resilience of their lands and livelihoods.
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Pearl millet helps fight iron deficiency - Evidence from three bioavailability studies

Pearl millet has the potential to fight iron deficiency, the highest nutrient deficiency in the world especially prevalent among women and children across India and sub-Saharan Africa. Recent studies have shown that the bioavailability (absorption) of iron in pearl millet is high enough to provide more than 50% of the daily requirement for children or adult males. One meal of biofortified high-iron variety of pearl millet can meet approximately 50-100% of the daily allowance for iron helping combat iron deficiency for women, men and children.

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ICRISAT-HOPE Project holds country strategies workshop for sorghum and millets
To share and exchange implementation experiences, lessons learnt, success stories and existing challenges, the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets Project held a country strategy workshop for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) in Arusha, Tanzania on 22-23 November.
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Feasibility study conducted for Food Testing Laboratory in Zimbabwe
With food safety and health gaining importance in Africa, a team from ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) visited Zimbabwe on 23-26 November to conduct a feasibility study and develop a business plan for a Food Testing Laboratory (FTL) in the country.
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Use science-based solutions and pro-poor approaches to surmount climate change
The power of science must be harnessed to address the problems spa