Egypt-ICARDA partnerships grow stronger

August 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Expanding research partnerships. H.E. Dr Salah Abdel Moamen (center), Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, discusses priorities with Drs Mahmoud Solh (left) and Mona Haraz

H.E. Dr Salah Abdel Moamen, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, commended the partnership between Egypt’s Agricultural Research Center (ARC) and ICARDA. He offered the Ministry’s full support for expanding collaboration  ̶ including potential use of the Ministry’s facilities.

Dr Abdel Moamen, who recently assumed office, hosted a meeting with Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General, to review and further strengthen ARC-ICARDA programs. Collaborative research covers food security, natural resource management and diversification of production systems, with bilateral as well as regional funded projects.

Research on wheat-based systems, led by ARC’s Sids Research Station, is helping to develop improved wheat and legume varieties. It is also an important component of a regional food security project whose successes (see below) have attracted new funding and additional partners such as Egypt’s National Academy of Science. Resource management research focuses on improving water productivity in different agro-ecologies, through technology packages that combine improved varieties, irrigation methods, and land and crop management. Production systems work is being expanded to include conservation agriculture techniques. Low-cost zero-till seeders, designed under an Australia-ICARDA project, will be tested in Egypt this coming season.

The meeting, held in in Cairo on 9 August, was also attended by Drs Mona Haraz and Raafet Zaki of the Ministry’s International Cooperation Division, and Dr Fawzi Karajeh, Coordinator of ICARDA’s Nile Valley and Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program.


Research impact: record wheat yields in Sudan

August 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr Kamal El-Siddig (left), Acting Director General, ARC, presented special certificates to farmers involved in the Food Security project

Smallholder farmers in Sudan report dramatic increases in wheat yield, as a direct result of collaborative research led by ICARDA. A regional project on‘Enhancing food security in the Arab region’, after two seasons, is already generating significant impacts. The project, supported by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Islamic Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development, is being implemented in four localities in Northern and Gezira states in Sudan (and at multiple sites in four other countries), jointly with the Agricultural Research Center (ARC).

The project tests and promotes technology ‘packages’ combining improved varieties, crop, water and land management methods This season, 50 farmers managed 1 to 2-hectare demonstration plots to showcase these technologies. Project farmers in Northern State obtained yields 27% to 79% higher than the average in the area; a number of farmers harvested above 5 t/ha, compared to the State average of 2.8 t/ha. Similarly in Gezira, project farmers obtained yields 43% to 163% higher than the local average. Crucially, these results were achieved in heat-stressed environments, particularly in Gezira.

The top farmers were honored at a ceremony held at ARC headquarters, attended by H.E. Dr Gaafar Ahmed Abdalla, State Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation; Prof. Kamal El-Siddig, Acting Director General, ARC; Dr Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General, and a number of project stakeholders. Dr Abdalla also presented Dr Solh and the Food Security project team with certificates of appreciation.

“We in Sudan appreciate ICARDA’s role in improving our agricultural systems and for giving our scientists professional development and training opportunities,” the Minister said. “The farmers, the project team and ARC staff have all worked together to achieve these remarkable results. By scaling out these technologies to more farmers, Sudan has the potential to achieve self sufficiency in wheat production in the near future.”

India-ICARDA collaboration: breaking yield barriers

August 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Materials from ICARDA were field tested under Indian conditions. Sources of resistance to drought, salinity, wilt and other stresses have been identified

A new partnership between the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICARDA is successfully using new genetic resources to develop high-yielding varieties and new sources of pest and disease resistance. The project ‘Pre-breeding and genetic enhancement in breaking yield barriers in kabuli chickpea and lentil’ is funded by the Indian government’s National Food Security Mission. Several ICAR organizations are involved. Implementation is led by the Indian Institute of Pulses Research. Other partners include the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, RAK College of Agriculture, and RVRS University of Agriculture and Technology.

The project aims to assemble, characterize and evaluate new genetic resources, and then to use these resources in chickpea and lentil breeding programs. Work began in the 2010-11 winter season, and progress has been rapid.

ICARDA – with its unique genebank collections of more than 135,000 accessions – provided 100 chickpea landraces, 166 elite lentil lines, 85 accessions of wild chickpea, and 574 accessions of wild lentil species. For the landraces, preliminary evaluation and seed multiplication has been completed. More detailed evaluations will continue next season. For the wild species – which are often difficult to establish – special facilities have been created at several locations.

Genotyping and phenotyping of these materials is ongoing. A hybridization program is well under way: more than 360 successful crosses have been made between wild and cultivated genotypes of both crops.

Donors have been identified for a range of traits: Ascochyta blight, Botrytis gray mold and nematode resistance in chickpea; heat tolerance, earliness, large seeds, rust and powdery mildew resistance, and iron and zinc content in lentil; and yield traits, Fusarium wilt resistance and drought/salinity tolerance in both crops.

Promoting conservation agriculture in India

August 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Higher yields, lower costs: Indian grasspea producers
are increasingly switching to conservation agriculture

ICARDA scientists are working with research centers in India to help improve the production of pulse crops – the country’s main source of dietary protein. One component of this research, funded by the National Food Security Mission, is introducing conservation agriculture techniques for lentil and grasspea in five states: Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The ICARDA team is led by Dr Ashutosh Sarker, Coordinator, South Asia and China Regional Program.

Field demonstrations, farmer-participatory trials and training programs have helped test and promote zero-tillage planting as well as relay cropping, where lentil or grasspea are direct-seeded (without tillage) into the standing rice crop. Both approaches increase yields while substantially reducing production costs, and thus increasing profits. The latter approach, in addition, enables farmers to cultivate an extra crop during the normally fallow post-rice season.

Farmers were trained on optimal planting time, seed rate, weed and pest/disease control and other improved technologies. In two seasons of trials, compared to traditional methods, zero-tillage gave 37-42% higher yields (up to 1.7 t/ha). Relay cropping gave 51-60% higher yields (up to 1.44 t/ha). There are also other environmental and sustainability benefits such as increase in soil organic matter and better moisture conservation.

Farmers in India are keen to adopt conservation agriculture because it is highly profitable. For small-scale farmers, the lower production costs are particularly important. There is considerable potential to scale out these technologies to neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal, where, as in India, legume crops are vital for food and nutritional security.

CRP1.1 launched in Central Asia and the Caucasus

August 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC) is among the five regions worldwide where the global CGIAR Research Program “Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas” (CRP1.1 “Dryland Systems”) will be implemented. Participants at a three-day Regional Inception Workshop held June 12th to 14th in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, endorsed an ambitious research framework that will tackle the challenges of sustainable agricultural development under the harsh environmental conditions of drought, high soil salinity and extreme climatic conditions.

This Regional Inception Workshop was organized by ICARDA in partnership with other international agricultural research centers based in the CAC Region: the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Bioversity International, International Potato Center (CIP), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).

The Workshop was opened by Prof. Sherali Nurmatov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan. In his welcome speech, he stressed the importance of improving the well-being of rural population in harsh arid areas through introducing sustainable livelihood options using innovations and state-of-the-art technologies in agricultural sector.

About 100 participants from the international centers, national research institutes and universities, farmers’ and community-based organisations, private sector and international development and donor agencies attended the event. The participatory working environment led to a strong exchange of ideas with the aim of reaching consensus to move this program from inception into practical implementation. CRP1.1 will build its research agenda on a unique combination of multi-disciplinary agro-ecosystem approach with site-specific action relying on baseline creation and impact measurement.

The participants openly shared their views to help shape the program’s agenda in the CAC Region. With their contributions, the strategic framework for integrated research was set and endorsed.

South Asia holds its CRP1.1 Inception Workshop

August 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A three-day Regional Inception Workshop on the new CGIAR Research Program “Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas” (CRP1.1/Dryland System), for South Asia was hosted in Dubai, UAE from June 25th to 27th.

The gathering was organised on behalf of CRP1.1 by ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) and involved the CGIAR partners ICARDA, ILRI, IMWI, CIP and Bioversity International. Some 50 participants from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan attended and took part, including scientists from national programmes and state agricultural universities, NGOs and the private sector.

The aim of the workshop was to confirm the CRP1.1 Action Sites for South Asia, to collectively understand what a systems approach is and does, to identify system-level problems and hypotheses in and between Action Sites, and crucially to build partnerships.  The meeting also had lively sessions on gender, livelihoods and smallholder profitability to help stimulate thinking about the full systems approach.

By the close of the meeting Action and Satellite sites were selected, a set of 10-12 system–level hypotheses were generated along with output definitions, and partner activities and agreed contributions to research  in the Action Sites.

Rabat hosts CRP1.1 Regional Inception Workshop

August 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Delegates in Rabat rest from discussions on CRP1.1

Rabat, Morocco was the venue for a three-day Regional Inception Workshop (RIW) on the new CGIAR Research Program “Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas” (CRP1.1/Dryland System), for the North Africa & West Asia region (NAWA). The workshop (July 2nd to 4th) was co-organized by ICARDA and the National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA), Morocco. More than 80 international experts and researchers participated, and in addition to ICARDA scientists and leaders, there were participants from 12 countries of West Asia and North Africa.

Other stakeholders present included representatives of International development agencies and donors (AfDB, IDB), International research centers (Bioversity International, ICRAF, ICBA, AVRDC), Regional Forums of Research (AARINENA, FARA, Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program), and European Research Institutions (CIRAD- France, IAMM- France, Univ. Gottingen, INRA France/ Agropolis).

Opening the workshop on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries, Prof. Badraoui (DG-INRA), pointed out the relevance of the CRP 1.1 program to Moroccan agriculture and on-going strategies for agricultural development, especially the pillar II of the Green Morocco Plan. He also expressed the commitment of the Moroccan government to support CRP 1.1 and work with the other countries of the region to achieve the objectives of this program.

The closing session was chaired by Dr William Payne, CRP 1.1 director and facilitated by Dr Rachid Serraj ICARDA director of DSIPS program and coordinator of CRP1.1 groundwork for NAWA. There was a consensus among the speakers (representatives of farmers’ organizations, policy makers, NGOs, and private sector) that the workshop was fruitful and the set objectives were met as planned. The wish now is to move fast in the planning process and start the implementation phase as soon as possible.

The proceedings of the workshop and the various reports and documents are published in the CRP1.1 wiki site ( & WA).

Grasspea: back on the menu for India’s agriculture

August 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A farmer in West Bengal in front of his harvested grass pea heap. Researchers discuss new varieties with him

Grasspea (Lathyrus sativus L.) has been grown as a crop in South Asia since time immemorial. But it has a problem. Its seeds and plant parts contain a neuro-toxin, ODAP. As a result in India its marketing has been banned, but not cultivation. Because of this trade ban, farmers were discouraged to grow grasspea on a large scale, growing only for family consumption, and its cropping area decreased from 1.3 m ha to about 850,000 ha in recent decades.

Now it’s coming back into favour due to several advantages, such as its very low input requirement and low cost of cultivation, suitability for Conservation Agriculture, adaptation to harsh environments (drought, heat, excess water), poor soil quality, and crucially dual purpose use. Grasspea has the potential to grow in rice-fallows and out of a total of 11.6 m ha fallows, at least 0.5 m can be brought under grasspea as a second crop to boost income for farmers.

Researchers in India and at ICARDA have been involved in developing low-toxin or toxin-free grasspea varieties to avoid health hazards, along with high yield (up to 43% higher) and wide adaptation.  In this endeavour a number of low-toxin varieties have been released in India and ICARDA-supplied, low-ODAP lines are in multi-location testing for future release.

Seed was the major constraint at the start of the project, but now with massive seed production programs by farmers (foundation+ certified), a total of 150 t of seeds of these varieties are available for 2012/13 distribution. Several seed-hubs have been created. Capacity development and awareness programs have been adopted in a big way. In the current year, 2 trainers’ trainings, 37 farmers’ workshops, 15 trainings on quality seed production, 3 womens’ training on physical detoxification of local varieties, 4 awareness camps, 6 field days were organized. A total of 109 villages have been covered involving 1184 farmers in 13 districts across 4 states.

The success of the project in last two years has encouraged a new State, Maharashtra, to introduce expanded grasspea cultivation. Instructed by Central Govt. Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Commissioner of the State has sought ICARDA’s help and called upon regional co-ordinator and legume breeder Dr Ashutosh Sarker to provide them with improved seeds of these varieties along with appropriate production technologies.

Focus on delivering quality dates

August 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning about quality dates in the lab

Efficient post-harvest handling of dates to reduce losses and minimize quality deterioration is a top priority in efforts to modernize the supply chain of this key crop.
A three-day training course on Quality Measurement of Dates (July 15th to 17th) was held at the Directorate of Agricultural and Livestock Research/Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Al Rumais, Sultanate of Oman. It was organized as part of the ICARDA-Date Palm Project. The course offered theoretical presentations on quality specifications of dates, new approaches in post-harvest techniques and handling, objectives and background of quality management, a look at the dates

industry in the Gulf and quality assurance of dates.
The practical part of the workshop brought 13 trainees from the different National Agriculture Research systems in the region to help give hands-on training on the new, innovative technology that is designed to transform mere dates, into sparkling gems that are pest-free, chemical-free, and uniform in shape, colour and texture with long shelf life.
Post-harvest management, if applied properly, will soon boost the market of dates, not only in the region, but in the whole world, making dates a source of real pride for the producers and manufacturers alike.
The Date Palm Project focuses on enhancing the yield and quality of the date palm through three major activities:

(1) problem solving research,

(2) technology transfer of proven techniques among participating GCC countries and

(3) capacity building – to strengthen skills of researchers and scientists of national agricultural research systems (NARS) extension agents, farmers and marketers in the area of date palm production and marketing.

Efficient post-harvest handling of dates to reduce losses and minimize quality deterioration is a top priority in efforts to modernize the supply chain of this key crop.
A three-day training course on Quality Measurement of Dates (July 15th to 17th) was held at the Directorate of Agricultural and Livestock Research/Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Al Rumais, Sultanate of Oman. It was organized as part of the ICARDA-Date Palm Project. The course offered theoretical presentations on quality specifications of dates, new approaches in post-harvest techniques and handling, objectives and background of quality management, a look at the dates

High level learning for water management

August 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The future of mountain lakes – Green Plan and LARI trainees in Beirut

A training course on “Planning, design and management of mountain lakes” was held from July 9th to 12th , in Beirut, Lebanon. The training was delivered for the national partners from Lebanon – Green Plan (GP) and Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) – of the IFAD-funded “Improved water management for sustainable mountain agriculture: Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco” project. There were a total of 17 trainees (10 from GP and 7 from LARI) who attended the training.

The lectures covered topics such as mountain hydrology: design, stability and implementation of hill lakes, delivered by Dr. Mohammed Boufaroua (ICARDA); vulnerability of hill lakes in semi-arid areas to erosion, delivered by Prof. Sihem Jebari (Tunisian National Research Institute for Rural Engineering Water and Forestry, and Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University); hill lakes functions and criteria for site selection, delivered by Dr. Theib Oweis (ICARDA); and water use for irrigation from hill lakes and strategies for managing hill lakes, delivered by Dr. Vinay Nangia (ICARDA).

The training included 3 days of lecturing and interactive learning and 1 day of field visits to selected sites for hill lakes and existing structures in the mountains of Lebanon.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.