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Annual Report 2013
Posted on May 27, 2014 by Kelly Izlar
The IPM Innovation Labs’s FY 2013 (October 1, 2012–September 30, 2013) annual report is now available. Click below to download the document.

http://www.oired.vt.edu/ipmcrsp/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2013/

For users with lower bandwidth and/or with interest in only certain specific topic areas, we will split individual chapters and major sections out of the Annual Report for you to view individually. Check back in the coming weeks for a list of individual chapters and sections for download. For more information contact: rmuni@vt.edu

Table of Contents

Management Entity Message
Highlights and Achievements in 2012–2013

Regional Programs
Latin America and the Caribbean
East Africa
West Africa
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Central Asia

Global Programs
Parthenium
International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN)
International Plant Virus Disease Network (IPVDN)
Impact Assessment
Gender Equity, Knowledge, and Capacity Building

Associate & Buy-In Awards
Indonesia
Nepal
Bangladesh

Training and Publications
Short- and Long-Term Training
Publications

Appendices: Collaborating Institutions and Acronyms

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Sumant Kumar photographed in Darveshpura, Bihar, India. Photograph: Chiara Goia for Observer Food Monthly

The Observer

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/feb/16/india-rice-farmers-revolution

In a village in India’s poorest state, Bihar, farmers are growing world record amounts of rice – with no GM, and no herbicide. Is this one solution to world food shortages?
• India’s rice revolution – audio slideshow

See video:  http://cdn.theguardian.tv/mainwebsite/2013/3/4/130301SRIIndia-16×9.mp4

Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.

This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.

It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Lon Ping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.

The villagers, at the mercy of erratic weather and used to going without food in bad years, celebrated. But the Bihar state agricultural universities didn’t believe them at first, while India’s leading rice scientists muttered about freak results. The Nalanda farmers were accused of cheating. Only when the state’s head of agriculture, a rice farmer himself, came to the village with his own men and personally verified Sumant’s crop, was the record confirmed.

The rhythm of Nalanda village life was shattered. Here bullocks still pull ploughs as they have always done, their dung is still dried on the walls of houses and used to cook food. Electricity has still not reached most people. Sumant became a local hero, mentioned in the Indian parliament and asked to attend conferences. The state’s chief minister came to Darveshpura to congratulate him, and the village was rewarded with electric power, a bank and a new concrete bridge.

That might have been the end of the story had Sumant’s friend Nitish not smashed the world record for growing potatoes six months later. Shortly after Ravindra Kumar, a small farmer from a nearby Bihari village, broke the Indian record for growing wheat. Darveshpura became known as India’s “miracle village”, Nalanda became famous and teams of scientists, development groups, farmers, civil servants and politicians all descended to discover its secret.

When I meet the young farmers, all in their early 30s, they still seem slightly dazed by their fame. They’ve become unlikely heroes in a state where nearly half the families live below the Indian poverty line and 93% of the 100 million population depend on growing rice and potatoes. Nitish Kumar speaks quietly of his success and says he is determined to improve on the record. “In previous years, farming has not been very profitable,” he says. “Now I realise that it can be. My whole life has changed. I can send my children to school and spend more on health. My income has increased a lot.”

What happened in Darveshpura has divided scientists and is exciting governments and development experts. Tests on the soil show it is particularly rich in silicon but the reason for the “super yields” is entirely down to a method of growing crops called System of Rice (or root) Intensification (SRI). It has dramatically increased yields with wheat, potatoes, sugar cane, yams, tomatoes, garlic, aubergine and many other crops and is being hailed as one of the most significant developments of the past 50 years for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers and the two billion people who depend on them.

Instead of planting three-week-old rice seedlings in clumps of three or four in waterlogged fields, as rice farmers around the world traditionally do, the Darveshpura farmers carefully nurture only half as many seeds, and then transplant the young plants into fields, one by one, when much younger. Additionally, they space them at 25cm intervals in a grid pattern, keep the soil much drier and carefully weed around the plants to allow air to their roots. The premise that “less is more” was taught by Rajiv Kumar, a young Bihar state government extension worker who had been trained in turn by Anil Verma of a small Indian NGO called Pran (Preservation and
Proliferation of Rural Resources and Nature), which has introduced the SRI method to hundreds of villages in the past three years.

While the “green revolution” that averted Indian famine in the 1970s relied on improved crop varieties, expensive pesticides and chemical fertilisers, SRI appears to offer a long-term, sustainable future for no extra cost. With more than one in seven of the global population going hungry and demand for rice expected to outstrip supply within 20 years, it appears to offer real hope. Even a 30% increase in the yields of the world’s small farmers would go a long way to alleviating poverty.

“Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more. This is revolutionary,” said Dr Surendra Chaurassa from Bihar’s agriculture ministry. “I did not believe it to start with, but now I think it can potentially change the way everyone farms. I would want every state to promote it. If we get 30-40% increase in yields, that is more than enough to recommend it.”

The results in Bihar have exceeded Chaurassa’s hopes. Sudama Mahto, an agriculture officer in Nalanda, says a small investment in training a few hundred people to teach SRI methods has resulted in a 45% increase in the region’s yields. Veerapandi Arumugam, the former agriculture minister of Tamil Nadu state, hailed the system as “revolutionising” farming.

SRI’s origins go back to the 1980s in Madagascar where Henri de Laulanie, a French Jesuit priest and agronomist, observed how villagers grew rice in the uplands. He developed the method but it was an American, professor Norman Uphoff, director of the International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development at Cornell University, who was largely responsible for spreading the word about De Laulanie’s work.

Given $15m by an anonymous billionaire to research sustainable development, Uphoff went to Madagascar in 1983 and saw the success of SRI for himself: farmers whose previous yields averaged two tonnes per hectare were harvesting eight tonnes. In 1997 he started to actively promote SRI in Asia, where more than 600 million people are malnourished.

“It is a set of ideas, the absolute opposite to the first green revolution [of the 60s] which said that you had to change the genes and the soil nutrients to improve yields. That came at a tremendous ecological cost,” says Uphoff. “Agriculture in the 21st century must be practised differently. Land and water resources are becoming scarcer, of poorer quality, or less reliable. Climatic conditions are in many places more adverse. SRI offers millions of disadvantaged households far better opportunities. Nobody is benefiting from this except the farmers; there are no patents, royalties or licensing fees.”

For 40 years now, says Uphoff, science has been obsessed with improving seeds and using artificial fertilisers: “It’s been genes, genes, genes. There has never been talk of managing crops. Corporations say ‘we will breed you a better plant’ and breeders work hard to get 5-10% increase in yields. We have tried to make agriculture an industrial enterprise and have forgotten its biological roots.”

Not everyone agrees. Some scientists complain there is not enough peer-reviewed evidence around SRI and that it is impossible to get such returns. “SRI is a set of management practices and nothing else, many of which have been known for a long time and are best recommended practice,” says Achim Dobermann, deputy director for research at the International Rice Research Institute. “Scientifically speaking I don’t believe there is any miracle. When people independently have evaluated SRI principles then the result has usually been quite different from what has been reported on farm evaluations conducted by NGOs and others who are promoting it. Most scientists have had difficulty replicating the observations.”

Dominic Glover, a British researcher working with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, has spent years analysing the introduction of GM crops in developing countries. He is now following how SRI is being adopted in India and believes there has been a “turf war”.

“There are experts in their fields defending their knowledge,” he says. “But in many areas, growers have tried SRI methods and abandoned them. People are unwilling to investigate this. SRI is good for small farmers who rely on their own families for labour, but not necessarily for larger operations. Rather than any magical theory, it is good husbandry, skill and attention which results in the super yields. Clearly in certain circumstances, it is an efficient resource for farmers. But it is labour intensive and nobody has come up with the technology to transplant single seedlings yet.”

But some larger farmers in Bihar say it is not labour intensive and can actually reduce time spent in fields. “When a farmer does SRI the first time, yes it is more labour intensive,” says Santosh Kumar, who grows 15 hectares of rice and vegetables in Nalanda. “Then it gets easier and new innovations are taking place now.”

In its early days, SRI was dismissed or vilified by donors and scientists but in the past few years it has gained credibility. Uphoff estimates there are now 4-5 million farmers using SRI worldwide, with governments in China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam promoting it.

Sumant, Nitish and as many as 100,000 other SRI farmers in Bihar are now preparing their next rice crop. It’s back-breaking work transplanting the young rice shoots from the nursery beds to the paddy fields but buoyed by recognition and results, their confidence and optimism in the future is sky high.

Last month Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz visited Nalanda district and recognised the potential of this kind of organic farming, telling the villagers they were “better than scientists”. “It was amazing to see their success in organic farming,” said Stiglitz, who called for more research. “Agriculture scientists from across the world should visit and learn and be inspired by them.”

Bihar, from being India’s poorest state, is now at the centre of what is being called a “new green grassroots revolution” with farming villages, research groups and NGOs all beginning to experiment with different crops using SRI. The state will invest $50m in SRI next year but western governments and foundations are holding back, preferring to invest in hi-tech research. The agronomist Anil Verma does not understand why: “The farmers know SRI works, but help is needed to train them. We know it works differently in different soils but the principles are solid,” he says. “The biggest problem we have is that people want to do it but we do not have enough trainers.

“If any scientist or a company came up with a technology that almost guaranteed a 50% increase in yields at no extra cost they would get a Nobel prize. But when young Biharian farmers do that they get nothing. I only want to see the poor farmers have enough to eat.”

 

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May 7, 2014, 10 a.m.

A WEBSITE could be the weapon of choice for farmers in the war against pest insects.

This website is called IPM Guidelines for Grains, which offers detailed information and advice for best management of destructive insect pests within Australia’s major grain crops.

It includes specific recommendations for each stage of crop development.

Developed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Entomology team, in conjunction with collaborators in all grain growing regions of Australia, the site equips growers and advisors with the latest advice to minimise production loss.

Also designed to help implement effective, long-term pest management practices on a whole-of-farm basis, DAFF Senior Extension officer, Entomology Kate Charleston said the IPM Guidelines took a problem-solving approach as opposed to being a rigid set of management guidelines.

They draw on all available pest management tools to tailor recommendations according to crop type, growth stage and location.

“This website provides easy-to-find information that you are unlikely to find on any other pest management website,” Ms Charleston said.

“Essentially what we have done is collected all the known information about integrated pest management in grains, including some novel practices, and applied this to specific pests and crops.

“Pest pages focus on management tactics for each crop stage including ‘off season’ operations and planning, while in the crop pages we have provided risk tables to address questions such as ‘when is the crop most at risk from pests'; ‘is there something I can do to minimise pest pressure'; or ‘can certain environmental conditions make the crop more susceptible to certain pests’?”

In addition to targeted IPM recommendations, the website contains an extensive collection of supporting material that is available both on the site and via external links, as well as a series of images to help users identify individual pest species.

The website is funded by the National Invertebrate Pest Initiative (NIPI), which is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), and brings together scientists from state government departments, universities, farmer groups and CSIRO to address pest management issues in the Australian grains industry

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May 05 2014

By Khetam Malkawi

AMMAN — Farmers’ education and empowerment should be a sustainable process in Jordan, especially since agriculture is one of the sectors in the Kingdom that employs guest workers, officials said on Monday.
In a country with a growing population that has almost reached 10 million, there has to be continuous education for agricultural workers, Agriculture Ministry Secretary General Radi Tarawneh said at a workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Tarawneh added that the sector is very important to the country’s economy, but there are several challenges that should be overcome.

These challenges, he noted, include contradictory pieces of legislation and urban encroachment on agricultural land.
However, local crops and agricultural products are tested and free of pesticides, the official stressed.

“There were news reports claiming the opposite, while others claimed that wastewater treated at the Khirbet Al Samra plant is used to irrigate crops for human consumption… this is false news,” Tarawneh said.
During the workshop, the FAO announced the conclusion of its 10-year Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) project, which was launched in 2004 and also implemented in Jordan.

Andrea Berloffa, emergency coordinator and liaison officer at FAO Jordan, said the project was aimed at improving the food and nutrition security of rural populations through development and implementation of sustainable agriculture practices in six countries, including Jordan, and was expanded in 2010 to include another four countries in the region.

According to Berloffa, education and empowerment of farmers was a “key activity of the IPM programme” that is based on the utilisation of farmer field schools (FFS).

He cited figures indicating that the project established more than 150 FFS in Jordan and over 2,500 farmers — 20 per cent of whom were women — benefited from these schools.

Berloffa explained that the FFS gives farmers the opportunity to learn how to deal with problems they face on their farms, exchange experience and learn how to improve the quality of their crops.

One achievement of the projects, according to the FAO official, is the institutionalising of the FFS approach by the National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE).

“Since 2008, the FFS approach has been incorporated and budgeted into the annual plans of the NCARE… initiating for the first time the participatory extension unit.”

Due to its impact on the country’s agricultural sector, the project received the International IPM Award of Recognition in 2012 from the US, according to National IPM and FFS Project Coordinator Ashraf Hawamdeh.

Hawamdeh noted that the project also had a direct impact on farmers’ livelihoods and some of the FFS beneficiaries succeeded in exporting more than 800 tonnes of tomatoes and 200 tonnes of cucumbers in 2009.

© Jordan Times 2014

© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.

 

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http://www.scidev.net/global/biotechnology/news/citizen-scientists-pitch-new-uses-for-paper-microscope.html

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Foldscope Team

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Speed read:
— The Foldscope is lightweight and durable, and only costs 50 US cents

– Ten thousand will be given to people who propose novel Foldscope experiments

– Field trials aim to see if the tool can help diagnose diseases including malaria

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Ten thousand ‘print-and-fold’ paper microscopes initially designed as low-cost medical diagnostic tools are being given away to researchers and citizen scientists who come up with novel ways to use them to test their ideas.

The goal of the Ten Thousand Microscopes initiative, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, is to create a crowd sourced lab manual for Foldscope, the low-cost microscope launched earlier this year by a US bioengineering team that combines pragmatic, origami design with sophisticated micro-optics.

The idea is to make “microscopy for everyone”, says Manu Prakash, a bioengineering researcher at Stanford University, United States, who led the development of the frugal innovation to address the lack of cheap, easy-to-use diagnostic tools for diseases in remote and impoverished communities.

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“The technology is a small piece of the entire solution and engaging people is as important. We need a much broader group of people thinking about global challenges.”

Manu Prakash, Stanford University

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“The technology is a small piece of the entire solution and engaging people is as important. We need a much broader group of people thinking about global challenges.”

Manu Prakash, Stanford University Assembled from a single sheet of paper, Foldscope microscopes are fitted with tiny ball lenses — about the size of a grain of salt — that can magnify samples up to 2,000 times.

Yet, as well as being lightweight, Foldscope is durable and, at roughly 50 US cents each, cheap enough to manufacture and distribute on a large scale, according to Prakash.

“We wanted to find a method by which we could manufacture [microscopes] in large enough quantities and at an extremely low cost, while keeping the design simple so that they could last out in the field and be used by anyone,” he says.

Foldscope is undergoing field trials in India and Uganda as a diagnostic tool for malaria, sleeping sickness and schistosomiasis, with the results due to be published later this year.

And the Stanford team is developing 30 Foldscope variants to target specific pathogens and diseases by using add-ons such as LED lights and fluorescent filters.

But the microscope’s potential applications are virtually limitless, says Prakash, who describes the innovation as a “platform technology”.

“The impact [of Foldscope] will ultimately be driven by developing new applications that are context-specific,” he says. “Scale-up will really be about getting the right sets of communities to engage and build an initial set of examples.”

Platform technologies such as Foldscope that are easy to adapt for local use have great potential for successful scale-up, says Ali Jazairy, who is senior counsellor for the innovation and technology sector at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

“These kinds of ‘appropriate technologies’ can become very useful because they are very simple, which means they can be easily adapted to local contexts,” he says. “This innovative, folded approach — that is almost playful — is also a good example of how science can be integrated into everyday technologies and made accessible.”

About 7,000 potential testers from more than 30 countries have already responded to the open call to develop new Foldscope experiments, according to Prakash, with proposals ranging from using the microscopes to test for diseases in bee populations to using it as a low-cost way of monitoring pathogens in milk in Mongolia.

“The response has been phenomenal,” says Prakash. “People have dreamt up applications for Foldscope I never would have thought of.”

Ultimately, Prakash hopes citizen scientists will use Foldscope to solve development problems.

“It’s very important to me to connect hands-on science education with global health issues,” he says. “This is the much bigger challenge. The technology is a small piece of the entire solution and engaging people is as important. We need a much broader group of people thinking about global challenges.”

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Red-headed cockchafer pasture damage.

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By Spencer Gibbs, Cradle Coast NRM April 17, 2014, 9 a.m.9, 2014

See: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/2225468/farmers-learn-new-skills-to-control-pests/?cs=130

WHAT if you could grow more grass, prevent pastures from becoming weedy and patchy and reduce the amount of spraying you do on your property?

You can beat pasture pests by doing a few things differently.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in pasture considers biological and cultural control practices to give stable, long-term pest control with minimal chemical support.

Biological measures tend to focus on the natural enemies of the pasture pest species while cultural measures include pasture or grazing management actions taken by the farmer to create an unforgiving environment for the pests.

Jason Lynch from Macquarie Franklin and Cradle Coast NRM are running a series of workshops for graziers in Tasmania’s North- West as part of a Pasture Pests program.

The workshops are designed to assist farmers and graziers in monitoring and controlling pests with minimal costs.

Significant pasture pest infestations can occur every few years.

IPM shows farmers how to look for problems before they start, for example: seeking out adult pasture pests in summer, which then relieves the issue of discovering the problem too late and having little alternative but to spray.

The ryegrass dominant pastures of the Cradle Coast region are susceptible to damage from pasture pests, three in particular: the black- headed and red-headed cockchafers (BHCC and RHCC) and corbie grubs.

When these pests are present in sufficient numbers they can devastate ryegrass pasture and create large areas of bare ground.

These bare areas are vulnerable to erosion and infestation by broadleaf and grass weeds, which reduces pasture productivity and requires the use of herbicides.

Treatment of BHCC and corbie grubs is heavily reliant on the use of synthetic pyrethroid and organophosphate broad spectrum pesticide applications.

Some organophosphates are currently under review and in the future the use of these products may become more restricted.

RHCC can’t be controlled by these methods, because it feeds below ground.

The Pasture Pests program offers the opportunity to reduce reliance upon agricultural chemicals in order to manage these pasture pets, reduce soil erosion and improve pasture productivity.

The first workshop will be run at the beginning of winter, followed by another in spring and then again in autumn 2015.

Participants will visit sites demonstrating the preferable heights that pastures should be grazed, see examples of damage from the previous winter, and also visit demonstration sites that are being used by growers.

The workshops are open to farmers as well as agricultural advisors.

There are limited spaces in the program so early registrations are recommended.

To find out more about the Pasture Pests program contact Spencer Gibbs, Coordinator: Productive Landscapes, at Cradle Coast NRM on 6431 6285.

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Flickr/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

 

There was one unpleasant surprise in what was otherwise an invigorating and useful high-level discussion at the EU-Africa Business Forum this week (1 April) in Brussels, Belgium: a skewed focus on success and perhaps a reluctance to admit to failure.

The session was organised to draw up a set of core messages on how to get the business sector and public research organisations to work closer and better together on ensuring food security in Africa and Europe.

These were then fed into 4th EU-Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union and African Union also taking place this week (2-3 April) in Brussels.

Following several ‘taster’ presentations that helped set the scene with successful examples, my task was to moderate a discussion that would identify both what works and what doesn’t work in making the two sectors more responsive to each other’s needs.
“It is time to look honestly and constructively at failures in the way we do things — in agricultural research and beyond.”

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Mićo Tatalović
“But despite a lively discussion involving most of the 50 or so delegates, and despite repeated calls to also hear examples of what worked less well, or not at all, we mostly only heard examples of success or thoughts on what ought to happen next.”

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Even a delegate who was involved in setting up a repository of examples of best practice aimed at farmers, when asked if we should also have a repository of ‘worst practice’ — things to definitely avoid, seemed unprepared for the question and unsure of how to answer it.

As in science, where in general only results that show something working well get reported, it seems that the participants preferred to highlight things that have worked well. From the launch of new small and medium size enterprises following on from EU Framework Programme 7’s research project in Egypt, to finding an innovative use for unpopular but productive mushroom farming in Rwanda, the success stories are many.

But as in science, our perspective and understanding are skewed if we never see the rest of the iceberg — the hypotheses that did not turn out to be correct — and don’t investigate why that was.

That things don’t always work the way we intended them to is evident from the various suggestions for new and different initiatives, such as innovative ways of financing agricultural research between the public and private sectors. If everything done so far was a success, why bother changing things — why not repeat past successes?

This lack of examples of less-successful initiatives limits our opportunity for learning.

Indeed, while it may be difficult to own up to having worked on project that just did not deliver, without recognising failure and understanding why it happened, we are unlikely to avoid it in future.

This is why SciDev.Net’s news recently started looking more proactively at past initiatives originally launched with high acclaim and high expectations, only to slowly fade from the media spotlight. These follow-up stories (‘whatever happened to…?’) offer valuable insights for others to learn from.

Recent examples include a 2008 MalariaEngage website designed to find a new way to crowdsource finding for malaria research in Africa; and Science for Humanity, which attempted to link up scientists and NGOs for better adoption of research in development work.

It is time to look honestly and constructively at failures in the way we do things — in agricultural research and beyond.

http://www.scidev.net/global/innovation/scidev-net-at-large/eu-africa-research-must-start-learning-from-failures.html

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