16) ICRISAT strengthens collaboration with Ethiopia

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has a longstanding partnership and collaboration with Ethiopia to improve the productivity of agriculture and sustainability of livelihoods in the drier and drought-prone areas. This collaboration reached a new level in the 1980s with launching of the Joint Vertisol Project undertaken jointly with several national and international partners to improve the sustainable utilization of black soils in Ethiopia.

Selected innovations based on experiences in Asia for improving productivity of problem soils and sustainable management of watersheds were locally tested and adapted to Ethiopian conditions. This project generated several useful impacts that enhanced water and soil fertility management and enhanced crop productivity for smallholder farmers.

ICRISAT has also provided improved germplasm for several dryland crops to Ethiopia for local evaluation, selection and release to increase crop yields in the semi-arid regions of the country. These include sorghum, millets, chickpea, groundnut, pigeonpea and sesame. Based on this partnership, over 15 high-yielding, market-preferred, disease- and drought-resistant varieties have been released by the Ethiopian national research system. These innovations are now playing a vital role towards improving local food security, farm incomes and commercialization of agriculture in semi-arid drought-prone areas. New cultivars including sweet sorghum lines suitable for biofuel production are also being tested. Several Ethiopian researchers and staff were also trained at different levels during the last 25 years.

Today, ICRISAT has further strengthened its longstanding collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to reinforce the existing agreement. Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, and Dr Solomon Assefa, Deputy Director General of EIAR, signed the MOU, at Addis Ababa on 3 October.

According to Dr William Dar the new MOU builds on the existing collaboration with EIAR and brings in relevant experiences from ICRISAT’s operations in the Sahelian region of West and Central Africa. “It is an opportunity to work on our collaboration with renewed vigor,” said Dr Dar.

The two institutes will collaborate on agricultural research in the semi-arid areas, including sustainable management of natural resources, socio-economics and policy research, training, and technology exchange activities. Specifically they will work on the genetic improvement of semi-arid commodities for improving productivity and reducing risks; conducting market studies and facilitating enabling policies for improving productivity and commercialization of these commodities; developing sustainable seed supply systems; improving natural resource management through integration of high-value multiple purpose dryland crops; promoting spread of technologies; and capacity building.

This will be implemented through joint research and development projects; sharing of resources; organizing workshops, meetings and trainings; promoting exchange visits and secondment of scientists; and exchanging research scholars.

For further information, contact Dr Bekele Shiferaw at b(dot)shiferaw(at)cgiar(dot)org.

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