Her Excellency the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, visited ICARDA headquarters on 29 November as part of her State visit to Syria – marking a new chapter in India-ICARDA partnerships. The President reiterated the Indian government’s support for the Center’s work. “The results of ICARDA’s research are directly relevant and useful to farmers, particularly in developing countries,” she noted. “This is an institution of global importance.
The President was accompanied by national leaders from both Syria and India. The Syrian dignitaries included H.E. Ali Mansoura, Governor of Aleppo, and H.E. Mansour Azzam, Minister for Presidential Affairs. The Indian delegation included Hon. Bharatsinh Solanki, Minister of State; two Members of Parliament – Hon. K.E. Ismail and Hon. V.B. Singh – and H.E. V.P. Haran, Indian Ambassador to Syria.
Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General, acknowledged the generous support provided by the government of Syria, which hosts the Center’s headquarters. He presented an overview of ICARDA’s work, highlighting collaboration with research organizations in India, and outlined how this partnership was delivering benefits to farmers in dry areas not only in India, but in developing countries worldwide. Collaborative projects with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and its various institutions, the National Rainfed Area Authority, and agricultural universities in India cover a number of areas, including improvement of staple food and fodder crops, biodiversity conservation and use, rainwater harvesting, water productivity, livestock husbandry, and socio-economics and policy. Priorities include: increasing yield and stress tolerance in legume crops, strengthening crop-livestock systems in dry areas, and promoting value-added products to increase farm income.
Ongoing and planned research projects involve 27 Indian institutions from 14 states, and are facilitated by ICARDA’s regional office for South Asia and China. The office, located in New Delhi, is hosted by ICAR. For more details on India-ICARDA collaboration, click here.
“Dryland farming is vital for the food security of the human population,” the President said. “I come from a dryland farming background myself and am keenly interested in technologies that can increase productivity in drylands. I congratulate ICARDA’s scientists who have made – and continue to make – substantial contributions to agricultural development.”
The President expressed hope that partnerships between ICARDA and Indian research organizations would grow even stronger. She pledged the government’s support “for ICARDA’s work in general, and particularly for collaborative India-ICARDA projects.”
“I convey my good wishes for your continued success, and to the dedicated scientists whose work has built this institution,” the President added. She toured fields and laboratories at Tel Hadya, including the genebank, the integrated pest management laboratory and the GIS unit.
|From the President’s office
A press release issued by the President’s office said (in part):
A press conference was organized in Damascus, the day before the President’s visit, and attracted print and television media from India, Syria, and from international press organizations. An ICARDA team led by Dr Kamil Shideed, ICARDA’s Assistant Director General for International Cooperation and Communications, met with the media for over an hour, discussing ICARDA’s work, ongoing and planned collaborative projects in India, and the significance of these partnerships for developing countries.
“This strategic alliance combines the strengths of Indian research organizations (with more than 26,000 scientists) with ICARDA’s global reach,” said Dr Shideed. “Collaborative programs will build on these synergies to develop new farming technologies for dry areas. They will also help share, with other developing countries, the lessons learnt from India’s remarkable growth in agriculture.”
The Board of the Consortium of CGIAR Centers held its third meeting at ICARDA headquarters, 3-6 October. The nine-member Board, mandated to provide oversight of the “new” CGIAR, is led by Dr Carlos Pérez del Castillo of Uruguay. Mr Lloyd Le Page, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Consortium, also attended. The leadership (Directors General and Board Chairs) of the 15 CGIAR Centers held parallel meetings at Tel Hadya during this period, and also participated in a joint session of the Consortium Board meeting.
Discussions at the meetings focused on several areas including funding mechanisms to ensure a smooth transition to the new CGIAR structure and the status of the proposed Consortium Research Programs. For more details see http://cgiarconsortium.cgxchange.org/
Welcoming the visitors, Mr Henri Carsalade, Chair of ICARDA’s Board of Trustees, drew attention to the location of ICARDA’s headquarters – in the region where agriculture first began and the center of origin of many important food crops. The Board spent a full morning touring field and laboratory facilities at Tel Hadya. Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General, made a presentation on ICARDA’s research, and accompanied the Board members and Center leaders on a tour of the genebank, the biosafety facility, the wheat quality laboratory, the IPM laboratories and the GIS Unit. They also visited the livestock research unit, and field experiments on water harvesting and conservation agriculture.
H.E. Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, UAE, has commended the results achieved through collaborative research by the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water (MWE) and ICARDA. The Minister received an ICARDA delegation led by Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General. The meeting, held on 25 October at Dr Bin Hahad’s office in Dubai, was attended by senior MWE management – H.E Obid Ben Jomah, Director General; Dr Mariam Alshenasei, Executive Manager, Technical Affairs; Mr Abdullah Salem, Executive Manager, Agricultural Affairs; Mr Abdulraheim Alhamadi, Executive Manager, Services; and Mrs Mariam Sultan, International Cooperation Department; and ICARDA staff led by Dr Ahmed Moustafa, Coordinator, Arabian Peninsula Regional Program.
Ongoing collaborative projects include seed health monitoring and production of high-value crops under protected agriculture. His Excellency was keen to expand this partnership, and suggested a special training unit for hydroponics (soil-less agriculture) be established in the UAE, with technical support from ICARDA. This would be part of the Ministry’s efforts to offer more technical support to local hydroponics growers.
Research partnerships between the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and ICARDA are set to expand, following a meeting last month between H.E. Rashid Khalfan Al Shariqi, ADFCA Director General, and a delegation led by Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General. The discussions, involving senior management from both institutions, focused on areas where ongoing collaboration could be expanded: indigenous fodder crops, production of high-value crops under protected agriculture, the use of GIS and remote sensing to re-classify UAE’s agro-ecological zones, and date palm production and post-harvest management.
The ADFCA is establishing a specialized center on food security, which will lead the planning and implementation of the national food security program. H.E. Al-Shariqi noted that well targeted collaborative research programs with ICARDA could greatly strengthen the new center. A team of scientists from both institutions is now working to develop an expanded workplan.
H.E Dr Abdelhaleem Ismail El Mutaafi, Sudan’s Federal Minister of Agriculture, pledged continued support for Sudan-ICARDA collaboration. In a meeting with Dr Fawzi Karajeh, Coordinator, Nile Valley and Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program and Dr Hassan El-Awad, Country Manager, ICARDA-Sudan, the Minister highlighted the need to accelerate technology dissemination in Sudan.
The ICARDA team also met with other federal and state ministers from Sudan, heads of national research agencies from Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Morocco, and representatives of donor agencies. These meetings took place during the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Ministerial Conference in Khartoum, 26-28 October 2010. The conference brought together decision makers from 29 countries. ICARDA was acknowledged several times for its contributions to agricultural development in the region; and the FAO recommended that ICARDA join the OIC’s food security task force.
The Nepal Agricultural Research Council has identified priority areas where collaboration with ICARDA could be expanded. This followed meetings in Nepal in October, between senior NARC management, Dr Kamil Shideed, ICARDA’s Assistant Director General for International Cooperation and Communications, and Dr Ashutosh Sarker, Coordinator of ICARDA’s South Asia and China Regional Program. The discussions covered ongoing and planned collaborative projects, and the potential for out-scaling technologies (developed by ICARDA and its partners elsewhere) through the Regional Program. Drs Shideed and Sarker also visited the newly established national genebank in Kathmandu, and farmer groups in Sinduli district, where adoption of new NARC-ICARDA lentil varieties is growing rapidly. Women farmers are particularly happy with the new varieties, which they say cook faster and taste better than traditional ones.
NARC and ICARDA are jointly developing concept notes and identifying potential donors, to expand collaboration in several areas including food and nutritional security, natural resource management, socio-economics research and capacity development.
Agricultural experts from Kazakhstan visited ICARDA headquarters during 25-27 October, to discuss collaboration in the development of a new research center in Shortandy in northern Kazakhstan. The visitors included Dr Sergey Mogilnyy, Vice President, KazAgroInnovation, and Dr Aigul Abugalieva from the Kazakhstan Research Institute of Crop Husbandry and Plant Industry (a former member of ICARDA’s Board of Trustees). They were accompanied by Dr Jozef Turok, Coordinator of ICARDA’s CAC Regional Program. KazAgroInnovation is a state company responsible for agricultural research and development. It plans to build the new center to help scale up ongoing work, with new facilities such as a national genebank. “There is a long history of research collaboration between Kazakhstan and ICARDA,” Dr Mogilnyy said. “We are keen to share your experience in research organization, project management, management of fields and facilities, as well as human resources management practices. This would be a valuable contribution to the new center.”