ICRISAT Annual Report 2011


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Among ICRISAT’s crops, sorghum was the first to be sequenced as part of a USA-led effort in 2007-08. In 2011, two groups – ICRISAT (together with Beijing Genome Institute

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icrisat annual report 2011 sequencing of the pigeonpea genome promises improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers


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citation icrisat international crops research institute for the semi-arid tropics 2012 icrisat annual report 2011 patancheru andhra pradesh india icrisat 52 pp issn 1017-9933.


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icrisat annual report 2011 patancheru 502 324 andhra pradesh india


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vision a prosperous food-secure and resilient dryland tropics mission to reduce poverty hunger malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics goal partnership-based international agricultural research-fordevelopment that embodies science with a human face.


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contents message from the director general message from the chairman 4 5 highlights of 2011 the brilliance of genome sequencing leading a legacy of legumes employing the gems among the genes a ray of hope in sub-saharan africa and hope in northwestern india boosting livelihoods through bhoochetana women farmers in development 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 about icrisat icrisat governing board 2011 icrisat senior and collaborative staff members financial summary 20 22 26 partnerships publications and awards list of restricted projects that commenced in 2011 workshops conferences and meetings in 2011 capacity strengthening publications awards icrisat in the news 28 36 44 48 49 50


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4 icrisat annual report 2011 message from the director general t he year 2011 started on a highly positive note with the conduct of our global research meeting of scientists and senior staff members at the headquarters capitalizing on our new strategic plan to 2020 and aiming to renew and reinvigorate icrisat in a major way during the meeting we all committed to stronger teamwork primarily towards the development of our three-year medium-term plan change offers new and exciting opportunities for us all we are making significant progress in internalizing our new inclusive market-oriented development imod framework a powerful unifying concept of our strategic plan as we continue to strive towards our vision of a prosperous food-secure and resilient dryland tropics we celebrate our 40th anniversary in 2012 and as we look at our achievements so far it is clear that the year 2011 has witnessed highly significant successes icrisat has been entrusted leadership of two cgiar research programs crps ­ grain legumes and dryland cereals ­ and is actively involved in major research-for-development programs across the semi-arid tropics the icrisat-led hope project in india and in sub-saharan countries of africa has made great strides in helping smallholder farmers increase the yields of two dryland cereal crops ­ sorghum and millets our research under the tropical legumes i and ii programs have complementary benefits as the learnings and successes of tli legume genomics are passed on to tlii legume improvement to be promoted among and extended to the ultimate beneficiaries the farmers of the semi-arid tropics our landmark science achievement for 2011 is of course the cracking of the pigeonpea genome sequence by an icrisat-led global research partnership the bhoochetana revival of the land project in india implemented in the state of karnataka has gained so much recognition that the state government of andhra pradesh has once again sought our partnership in applying the same brush of success in this state and there are indications that other states will follow we likewise proudly report our increasingly successful women empowerment initiatives in several countries in subsaharan africa we have much to be grateful for as always we acknowledge the contributions of all our stakeholders whose faith in our ability enables our efforts our governing board whose guidance and encouragement fuels our enthusiasm and our highly dedicated team of scientists and support staff without whom our vision would be all for naught together with our partners it is our privilege to serve this great mission of leading the journey of hope and prosperity for the poor in the dryland tropics william d dar illi director general


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icrisat annual report 2011 5 message from the chairman i write this message for icrisat s annual report with a sense of pride in the work skills and dedication of my colleagues because of their efforts icrisat continues to grow from strength to strength and from success to success in fulfilling its mission to reduce poverty hunger malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics our work is now being regularly reported in the international media icrisat s mandate in the semi-arid tropics spans countries in asia and sub-saharan africa in this past year icrisat has laid the foundation for the implementation of the icrisat south-south initiative issi this initiative is strengthening and extending our india-africa partnership and has elevated icrisat s role as a bridge broker and catalyst as of december 2011 icrisat has shared 829 of its improved varieties and hybrids with 79 countries saw the release of the icrisat-developed groundnut and pigeonpea varieties in mozambique and malawi and the spread of its agribusiness and innovation platform activities developed in india to ghana kenya mali uganda and zambia these are no small achievements in a single year and they hugely demonstrate icrisat s serious attention to its role in our constant search for better crop varieties icrisat s leadership in sequencing the pigeonpea genome deserves special mention as it is a landmark achievement of 2011 the challenges posed by climate change still loom large and icrisat is doing its share to mitigate the consequences in march 2011 icrisat launched a project to test its hypothesis of hope which spells out measures to ensure that our farmers overcome the threats associated with this global problem icrisat was also chosen to lead two important cgiar research programs on grain legumes and dryland cereals besides the high quality science being performed at icrisat we have witnessed the sincerity and integrity of icrisat s management and staff in carrying out their mission icrisat s governing board has lauded its science and institutional health and has complete faith in icrisat s ability to develop relevant practical and sustainable solutions in the areas of these crps along with my fellow board members i thank icrisat for its service in the semi-arid tropics and thank all stakeholders for their continued support and trust in this very special relevant and committed research institution nigel poole chair icrisat governing board


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6 icrisat annual report 2011 the brilliance of genome sequencing t rajeev varshney setting up a genomics experiment he integration of genomic tools in plant breeding is becoming routine resulting in the more rapid development of superior crops however for most of the icrisat mandate crops genomics-assisted breeding is still at an early stage this is mostly due to limited genomic information and a poor understanding of the inheritance genes alleles interactions and regulation of these underlying agronomic performance product quality and tolerance/resistance to important abiotic and biotic stresses sequencing generations in 2000 arabidopsis arabidopsis thaliana l was the first plant to have its genome sequenced since then genome sequencing has progressed rapidly and several economically important crops have been sequenced ­ rice 2005 poplar 2006 grape 2007 papaya 2008 sorghum maize and cucumber 2009 soybean 2010 and pigeonpea and strawberry 2011 however the time and personnel costs associated with these efforts prohibited the sequencing of larger numbers of plant species especially those with large complex genomes such as groundnut recent advances in next generation sequencing technologies with increased throughput and reduced costs have dramatically increased the opportunities for sequencing plant genomes further sequencing additional genotypes of a given species is substantially less expensive once a complete or nearly complete aligned genome sequence has been produced eg sequencing another sorghum variety can be done now for under us$1500 whereas the first 95 complete aligned sorghum genome sequence cost over us$2 million by the end of 2013 we expect that all five icrisat crops will have genome sequences and that these will be in use by breeders genome sequencing of icrisat crops among icrisat s crops sorghum was the first to be sequenced as part of a usa-led effort in 2007-08 in 2011 two groups ­ icrisat together with beijing genome institute shenzhen china and ten other institutes around the world and a team led by the national research centre on plant biotechnology new delhi ­ published aligned sequences of the pigeonpea genome using different sequencing approaches by the end of 2013 we expect that all five icrisat crops will have genome sequences and that these will be in use by breeders ­ truly remarkable progress in such a short period of time sorghum is a major dryland cereal particularly in the semi-arid tropics of africa and asia the sorghum genome was sequenced by an international consortium of 21 institutes including icrisat the sorghum genomic sequence and novel molecular markers identified from it are useful not just for the sorghum community but also across research communities addressing the improvement of many other species for which less comprehensive genomic resources are available now eg sugarcane and pearl millet


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icrisat annual report 2011 pigeonpea is an important legume crop grown in semiarid regions globally like other grain legumes eg chickpea lentil cowpea and common bean it is known as the poor people s meat because of its high protein content but crop productivity worldwide has stagnated access to an aligned pigeonpea genome sequence will provide breeders with more effective methods to improve yield and quality tackle pests and diseases and improve tolerance to harsh environmental conditions it is the first orphan crop the first non-industrial crop and the second food legume after soybean for which published genome sequence information is available chickpea is grouped into kabuli and desi types desi chickpeas have darker seeds and a rough coat and are cultivated mostly in the indian subcontinent ethiopia mexico and iran kabuli chickpeas are lighter colored have larger seeds and a smoother coat and are grown mainly in southern europe northern africa afghanistan pakistan chile and in the indian subcontinent efforts are underway to sequence the genomes of both types of chickpea in partnership with the indian council of agricultural research and universities in the usa canada australia spain and germany groundnuts peanuts have a large complex genome making its genetic analysis challenging the peanut genome project coordinated by the usa peanut foundation and mars inc and involving scientists from university of georgia university of california 7 davis usda-ars bgi-shenzhen ncgr university of brasilia embrapa icrisat and several institutes from china have recently started sequencing of diploid progenitors and cultivated peanut genotypes the outcome will enable molecular breeding approaches for improving groundnut yields resistance tolerance and product quality traits millets are a group of a dozen small-seeded grasses harvested as grain crops as it is closely related to the biofuel crop switchgrass foxtail millet was given early priority and a team led by the university of georgia produced an aligned genome sequence as foxtail millet is pearl millet s closest relative pearl millet breeders are already using this unpublished foxtail millet sequence along with the published genomic sequences of rice and sorghum to accelerate pearl millet improvement further icrisat is building a consortium to generate an aligned genome sequence for pearl millet by the end of 2013 outlook the availability of an aligned genome sequence opens new paths for crop research and improvement by providing a better understanding of plant genome structure and the dynamics of molecular evolution the identification of genes and genomic regions controlling important traits and better tools and platforms for gene mapping gene isolation and better integration of conventional and genomicsassisted breeding approaches it takes many players including scientists technicians and field helpers to apply the benefits of genome sequence information for crop improvement.


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8 icrisat annual report 2011 leading a legacy of legumes i mrs temegnush dhabi proudly displays the chickpea in her grain store would never have thought chickpea could bring me such high returns says 50-year-old temegnush dhabi in her grain store filled with bags of recently harvested chickpeas from 1.5 hectares i harvested 42 bags about 4 tons of grain temegnush has been a farmer for 26 years since working with researchers from the ethiopian institute for agricultural research and icrisat over the past four years to test improved resistant chickpea varieties temegnush has seen dramatic increases in her chickpea yields she is one of nearly a quarter million smallholder farmers in sub-saharan africa ssa and south asia sa directly reaping the benefits of new legume varieties through the tropical legumes projects i and ii legumes are among the oldest cultivated plants fossil records show that prehistoric people domesticated and cultivated legumes for food today this extremely large category of crops is second only to cereals in supplying carbohydrates protein and fat necessary for human food needs of over 30 species of legumes the major ones for sub-saharan africa and south asia include chickpea common bean cowpea groundnut or peanut pigeonpea and soybean annual area planted to these crops stands at 27 million ha in ssa and 40 million ha in sa with an annual production estimated at 19 million metric tons mt in ssa and 43 million mt for sa average yields are low at less than 1 mt per ha an estimated 140 million households over 101 million in ssa and 39 million in sa grow one or more of the six major legumes ­ valued at more than us 31 billion ­ each year partners in tropical legumes i tl i led by the cgiar s generation challenge program gcp include the nars of collaborating countries advanced research institutes in brazil and the usa icrisat ciat beca and egerton university in kenya the project is researching the use of advances in genomics to harness important traits found in global stocks of legume genetic resources to develop crops that better meet farmers needs in the companion project tropical legumes ii or tl ii icrisat and sister cgiar centers the international center for tropical agriculture and international institute of tropical agriculture together with several national program private sector and ngo partners are working closely with smallholder farmers to ensure that they access seed of improved grain legume varieties developed by the tropical legumes projects perhaps the most important achievement has been creating excitement about tropical legume technologies among researchers and farmers and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers overcoming challenges through tropical legumes ii major constraints to the production of tropical grain legumes fall into two categories ­ technical and institutional drought extreme heat and soil


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icrisat annual report 2011 degradation combined with diseases pests and weeds are the technical constraints that must be addressed solutions to these have been researched for the past three decades or more and ample knowledge has been accumulated while research continues to tackle these and emerging constraints adaptation and adoption of available technologies are increasing tropical grain legumes productivity and production institutional constraints include mainly government policies and regulations ­ such as the lengthy variety release process lack of grading and standards lack of incentives for private investment in seed production decline in investment in agricultural research and development and many others the tl ii project has attempted to address many of these and has learned important lessons perhaps the most important achievement of tl ii so far has been creating excitement about tropical legumes technologies among researchers and farmers and the possibilities of bringing about change in the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in target countries together with extension workers have been trained in improved farming practices and have strengthened efforts to encourage legume farming 9 a good example is ethiopia where the project has visibly transformed the landscape in central ethiopia earlier farmers grew mainly cereals such as teff ethiopian millet and wheat but now many more farmers are growing chickpea addressing the roles of women in producing food and making decisions about family nutrition needs is critical to achieve success with the increased income i earned last season i bought a second pair of oxen which i lend to neighboring farmers temegnush says i m no longer seen as a poor widow but a successful farmer it is small achievements such as those enjoyed by temegnush that add up to considerable success when multiplied by the millions who also benefit the next phase of the project will focus on gender specific aspects of tropical legume production marketing and consumption particular emphasis will be given to location-specific monitoring and evaluation impact assessment data management and increased seed production and delivery the project will also continue to emphasize capacity strengthening of national agricultural research systems in the two regions obviously tl ii is the perfect complement to tl i as tl i employs high-end science to improve the crops tl ii delivers the goods to the smallholder farmers who might not otherwise have access to science-led solutions and achievements in agriculture emerging success the tl ii project has already had valuable impact more than 60 new varieties of tropical legumes have been released in the target countries and 93,000 metric tons of improved legume varieties seed has reached 240,000 smallholder farmers in the project countries in sub-saharan african and asian regions many farmers farmers and researchers visiting the success of a newly released variety of groundnut in tamil nadu india.


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10 icrisat annual report 2011 employing the gems among the genes b mr abdulai sule kudai of kudai village jigawa state nigeria showing off his bumper harvest of an improved groundnut variety in november 2011 eatrice komen smiled again it had taken her four years to finally reap a harvest so satisfying beatrice and fellow farmers of the baringo district in the rift valley of kenya are of course unaware of the long chain of events that resulted in their bountiful harvests prior to this scientists in ethiopia malawi and tanzania conducted chickpea trials to test and select the best varieties for these regions intense research and testing was also taking place more than 5000 km away in patancheru india and in other laboratories across the world the farmers are just grateful to the final link in the chain of events the egerton university which provided them with the high quality seeds and advice that resulted in livelihood-saving harvests of chickpea during the offseason the use of molecular tools for example in marker assisted breeding can take years off the time it takes to develop new varieties using conventional methods employing modern science through tropical legumes i as a companion project to tropical legumes ii tl i is developing and employing modern molecular tools and approaches to increase the effectiveness of improving four legume crops ­ chickpea cicer arietinum l groundnut arachis hypogaea l cowpea vigna unguiculata l and common bean phaseolus vulgaris l icrisat is focused on chickpea and groundnut already the tl i project has benefited the scientific community through the development of faster breeding techniques and more targeted research to find important plant traits and the farming community that eventually uses the improved seed to cultivate more productive varieties resistant to drought and disease benefits to science as a modern breeding approach the use of molecular tools for example in marker assisted breeding can take years off the time it takes to develop a new variety by providing quicker answers and results in the process of breeding improved varieties of crops together with the national fund project of india we were able to produce the first ssr-based genetic linkage map for cultivated groundnuts said scientist vincent vadez leader of tl i s objective to improve groundnut productivity for marginal environments in sub-saharan africa ssrs or simple sequence repeats are a type of molecular tool that can identify which gene eg for drought tolerance is present in a plant tli and other associated projects have provided us the molecular markers associated with root-related traits for drought tolerance in chickpea says rajeev varshney leader of chickpea activities of tli crop breeders find this information invaluable together with breeders from kenya ethiopia and india we have started to use markers related to drought tolerance in breeding programs says pooran gaur icrisat s chickpea


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icrisat annual report 2011 breeder who is working on chickpea breeding activities in both tli and tlii additionally groundnut breeders at icrisat are using molecular markers to breed against leaf rust in groundnut molecular marker information springs from tapping the genetic diversity of a given crop scientists are now in a position to advise on combinations of plant parents that can give rise to a variety resistant to a disease or tolerant to the drought condition of a particular region and have identified new drought tolerant sources of groundnut and chickpea germplasm all the data collected and produced in these investigations has been made freelyavailable to researchers via internet-based information resources benefits to farmers in all the field trials held within collaborating countries farmers have been greatly encouraged to participate in selecting the best varieties they enthusiastically get involved in the process when given a chance to select drought and pest resistant varieties and also choose varieties with market preferred grain characteristics in terms of color size and taste farmers are benefitting from the resistant and improved varieties in terms of bigger and more stable harvests that inevitably bring in better more reliable incomes in addition the improved varieties provide nutritional benefits to both farmers and consumers 11 sustainable benefits the tl i team not only makes the results of research available to scientists and farmers but also teaches them how to use the tools and approaches developed in the project farmers are learning how to select the best varieties and how to reap the maximum benefits from these on their farms also future scientists from many countries are receiving field and laboratory training on the application of modern scientific tools being employed in tl i such transfer of knowledge is important to ensure that the successes of tl i continue to be achieved long after the project is over legume genomics that begins with crushing a seed in a laboratory to extract its dna has far reaching impacts on the scientific community capacity building of nars and eventually on the farmer who unwittingly validates the scientific findings by achieving better harvests in the field if only the likes of beatrice komen knew the full story how much astonishment would accompany the simple joys of reaping a good harvest for scientists the knowledge that they contribute to food security is enough reward icrisat geneticist rk varshney right discusses the employment of molecular tools with chickpea breeder p gaur.


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12 icrisat annual report 2011 a ray of hope in sub-saharan africa n seed farmer mr mrema with hybrid sorghum promoted by the hope team in miwaleni tanzania ews field agents from seven unions of the farmer organizations mooriben and fumagaskiya participate in a training program in dantchiandou niger on improving organic fertilizer using a composting technique news in august 2011 the republic of southern sudan released two sorghum varieties ­ kari mtama 1 and macia news in tanzania the department of research and development released for the first time two finger millet varieties u15 and ufm149 and foundation seed of these are being multiplied in seven hectares targeting production of 7 tons at the miwaleni research site tanzania the team is enthusiastically developing and promoting seed production and dissemination models in the region news icrisat establishes a greenhouse at sadoré niger for screening pearl millet against the devastating downy mildew fungal disease and is using the facility to provide hands-on training to national scientists in the region these and several more achievements have stemmed from the `harnessing opportunities for productivity enhancement hope for sorghum and millets project involving icrisat and partners in sub-saharan africa and india the project seeks to improve the livelihoods of at least 200,000 smallholder farm households who depend on sorghum and millet for food and income ­ 60,000 in west and central africa wca 50,000 in eastern and southern africa esa and 90,000 in south asia sa the project is reaching these farm households through methods such as participatory varietal selection and testing field demonstrations farmer field schools sale and distribution of small affordable seed packs and use of rural radio stations and video shows targeting technology by involving farmers in the selection of improved varieties the hope team succeeded in identifying 35 new cultivars of sorghum pearl millet and finger millet that meet farmer consumer and industrial requirements participatory approaches in variety selection and farmer field schools are efficient models for technology verification and dissemination and are being employed in several of the hope target countries overall 14 sorghum hybrids were evaluated in pre-release variety trials in three on-station conditions and in three villages in each of the three sorghum production zones of mali following the release of two varieties of sorghum in the republic of south sudan the country imported a total of 3.6 tons of foundation seed seed that will be used to produce seed for farmers in the country of the two varieties produced in tanzania thus displaying the trust they place in these two products of research promoted by the hope team.


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icrisat annual report 2011 scientists have embraced molecular tools to improve efficiency of variety development eg to introgress resistance to the parasitic weed striga tolerance to drought stress into farmer preferred sorghum varieties and resistance to the downy mildew disease in pearl millet such new approaches shorten the time it takes to develop new and improved varieties 13 hands-on training the team developed and disseminated a number of manuals on integrated striga management agri-business development participatory approaches and seed production in user friendly formats in english french and local languages the team also identified 15 to 20 farmer organizations with 200 to 1000 members each in the target countries and organized consultative meetings with up to 20 agro-input dealers operating within their reach to initiate farmer to market linkages they also helped to build demands from industries and niche markets for sorghum pearl millet and finger millet including buyers such as the purchase for progress p4p program of the world food program and the flour milling and beverage industries the project has also identified farmer-friendly micro-finance institutions and banks and manufacturers of user-friendly and efficient post-harvest and processing equipment to ensure sustainability and further growth the hope team has enhanced the capacity of partners to deliver technologies to farmers short-term and in-service training has already been provided to 460 men and 128 women in esa and 490 men and 272 women in wca in subjects such as data analysis molecular techniques seed production and product marketing this is in addition to the thousands of men and women farmers who have been exposed to new innovations through field days through such multi-disciplinary and participatory approaches the project is well on its way to offering a ray of `hope to the smallholder sorghum and millet farmers in sub-saharan africa enhancing farmers knowledge the team is enthusiastically developing and promoting seed production and dissemination models in the region the models involved the sale of small seed packs of improved adaptable varieties farmer-to-farmer exchanges and distribution of relief seed using farmer organizations and ngos in wca over 11,500 farmers were reached with quality seed of improved pearl millet varieties and almost 15,400 farmers were reached with quality seed of improved sorghum varieties in esa over 68,600 farmers were reached with quality seed of sorghum varieties and almost 23,000 farmers with improved finger millet varieties in esa 50­80 yield increases over the local variety and farmer management practices were achieved in fields of farmers who participated in the integration of improved striga resistant varieties with fertilizer microdosing while in wca the integrated striga and soil fertility management technologies promoted by the hope team increased yields of pearl millet and cowpea intercrops by 20­40 additionally profits of this technology increased by 50­80 in 80­100 of the on-farm trials training farmers is a challenging yet satisfying experience besides engaging in classroom lessons and farmers sampling snacks made from sorghum and millet during a field day in moshi tanzania.



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