PROGRESS IN FP3: Integrated Farm and Household Management – 2020

Flagship Program 3 (FP3) was deeply involved in evidencing impacts through large scale on-farm evaluations, participation in workshops and conducting a review on grain legumes and dryland cereals for natural resources management. A three-day gender mainstreaming workshop was conducted with the cross-cutting theme on gender for better reporting. A legacy paper is being produced. In the area of biotic stress, pathogenic variation was studied among 80 isolates of Magnaporthe grisea (rice blast fungus) collected from seven states in India. Fourteen pathogenic groups/pathotypes were observed based on the reaction of 80 isolates on 10 pearl millet genotypes. Pathotype-isolates Pg 138, Pg 186, Pg 204 and Pg 232 were selected for use in greenhouse screening of pearl millet lines towards improving protocols for developing resistant lines. To control caterpillars of the cowpea pod borer Maruca vitrata , a total of 18,000 adult hymenopteran parasitoids (Therophilus javanus) were released in Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria in 2020. Also, five strains each of Streptomyces and Bacillus were evaluated under both greenhouse and wilt sick field conditions at ICRISAT, Hyderabad. The selected isolates reduced disease incidence as well as expression of disease symptoms over the non-inoculated. For abiotic stresses, sweet sorghum bagasse compost prepared with plant growth promoting microorganisms including Myceliophthora thermophila, Aspergillus awamori and Bacillus subtilis enhanced plant growth and yields in sorghum, e.g., increasing panicle weight (40–51%), seed number (20–62%) and seed weight (37–65%).  (

High-yielding, drought-tolerant legume varieties (cowpea, groundnut, pigeon pea and soybean) with farmer preferred traits (early maturity, seed size, cooking time and taste) together with appropriate input combinations (variety, phosphorus, potassium, inoculum and lime) have been identified through participatory cropping system management trials across various agro-ecologies for increased productivity. Sustainable intensification systems with diversified crop mixes including intercropping maize and cowpea, groundnut and pigeon pea, cropping patterns such as two or four rows of maize and one or two rows of cowpea intercrop and rotation sequences including maize following soybean or cowpea and cowpea following maize or soybean that capitalize on the synergies between and among crops and systems have been developed. Technologies that lead to increased resilience and enhance resource use efficiency in systems are being promoted to increase productivity on smallholder farms. The simple hand push legume seeder was promoted for planting cowpea and soybean that allowed farmers, particularly women to cut down on the time spent planting and on labor cost, reduced drudgery and increased yields. To create awareness, promote and scale up the adoption of technologies, 500 demonstration plots were established on farmers’ fields in Malawi and Mozambique in partnership with farmer’s associations, community seed producers and agro-dealers, but only limited farmer field days were conducted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Similarly, extension materials were disseminated and radio messages broadcast across communities were expanded to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions to reach more farmers in Malawi and Mozambique.  The activities of promoting GLDC-based practices in Malawi and Mozambique cumulatively benefitted 476,591 individuals.  In terms of adoption, 309,558 farmers (36% women) applied improved technologies (GLDC varieties and farming systems) on 440,743 ha across the activity domain in Mozambique in the last five years. Forty-one percent of this area was under improved varieties of cowpea, groundnut, pigeon pea and soybean, whereas 59% was under improved crop management practices (inter-copping and rotations, appropriate planting time, optimum plant density and appropriate use of inputs). Datasets on livelihood typologies, innovation adoption and impacts of legume (cowpea, groundnut, chickpea, pigeon pea and soybean) technology interventions in Niger, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are being used to develop decision support systems. Random Forest algorithm and Sentinel imagery were used to improve mapping of soil organic carbon (SOC) and NPK at the farm level. NPK nutrient flow models have been developed. Crop models were calibrated and validated to simulate the performance of millets, groundnut, soybean and cowpea varieties from 30 years’ seasonal analyses in northeast Nigeria, providing specific recommendations on varieties and sowing dates for the region.

In collaboration with CCAFS, we developed a methodology as framework to quantify vulnerability and resilience by accounting for a smallholder household’s ability to adapt and respond to climatic risk. A suite of systems modelling tools/framework for co-designing resilient farming systems such as farm household typologies, whole farm system model as decision support and farming systems sustainability and resilience (FSSR) assessment framework were tested and validated in Suryapet, Telangana, India. The national partners e.g. ICAR-IIFSR plan to use it a large scale. We’ve strengthened the capacity of extension systems and NARS partners in India and Niger in using these tools. We’ve used systems tools and modelling across WCA (Northern Nigeria), ESA (Malawi and Tanzania) and SA (India) to develop agronomic packages and targeted recommendations domains for crop traits. N-fertilizer increased simulated grain yield by 26–52% for ICSV-400 and 19–50% for Improved-Deko compared to unfertilized treatment in Sudano-Sahelian zone and suggests a review of blanket recommended fertilizer rates across semi-arid environments. Multi-locational datasets and model runs supported product profile development: optimum sowing for millet and early-to-medium-maturing groundnut varieties in semi-arid Nigeria. The crop modelling tools developed to identify the G×E×M options for enhancing resilience and productivity of sorghum in India enabled the target stakeholders to understand spatial variability. We developed a method for mapping croplands using Sentinel-2 NDVI time-series and exploiting the SMT approach along with ground survey data to assess the impact of abiotic stresses such as drought and heat stress on cropping systems. In Zimbabwe, a training on rainwater harvesting (RWH) was conducted for 30 AGRITEX officers and the Department of Mechanization and Irrigation Development. ICRISAT, in partnership with the Department of Animal Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Bayero University, Kano, built the capacity of various farmer groups, youth and women on crop residue harvesting and processing using stover crushers. During 2020, we worked with 38 communities, directly benefitting 4,323 farmers and entrepreneurs, 1,277 male adults, 301 female adults, 2,103 male youth and 642 female youth in the Bauchi, Jigawa and Kano states of Nigeria. We supported 40 youth as service providers for the maintenance of the promoted residue crushers. ICRISAT and ICRAF created high resolution remote sensing imagery at 20 M? resolution at country level for Niger in order to scale up the biological reclamation of degraded lands; Remote sensing based maps of three types of hardpans were prepared to take the interventions to scale; USAID is using these resources for their scaling interventions in Niger. Targeting nutrition at rural household level, considering a holistic approach that include diversity of food and consumption behavior change dimensions, nutrition education sessions reached 1,227 pregnant women and lactating and young mothers and 876 adolescent boys and girls in India. To enhance household diet diversity and nutrition security in Mali and Burkina Faso, participatory on-farm demonstrations of 14 improved biofortified cultivars of GLDC crops (sorghum, millet, cowpea and groundnut) were piloted with 160 households together with women-led gardens of vegetables and trees including Ziziphus mauritiana (jujube), Tamarindus indica (tamarind) and Adansonia digitata (baobab) with households. The deployed GLDC varieties have been recommended by the ICRISAT breeding team of West Africa (FP4).

We produced quick assessments to understand the effects of COVID19 induced lockdowns on agricultural systems and rural livelihoods in South Asia. These analyses suggested context specific policy responses at different scales from household to region. Few of the suggested strategies like promoting local agri-food systems, mapping skills and identifying alternative deployment of returnee migrants to rural areas, cautiously easing out of restrictions to enable farm harvest and movement food commodities were useful in building government responses to mitigate the effects on COVID19 in India. In Mali, we found that farmers had to reduce the net sown area under maize and cotton due to non-availability of market because of COVID19 restrictions.

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