Improving genetic gain and strengthening the production and delivery of improved varieties of pearl millet, sorghum and groundnut were the focal points of discussion between partners of two projects – HOPE II (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement for sorghum and millets in sub-Saharan Africa, phase 2) and TL III (Tropical Legumes phase 3). The two project teams from ICRISAT visited the Institut de l’Environnement et des Recherches Agricoles (INERA-Burkina Faso) to discuss the achievements, challenges and adjustments required to meet farmers’ needs.
- They witnessed on-station evaluation of 100 genotypes of sorghum (from ICRISAT Kenya) at the INERA research station at Saria (80 km from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) as part of the HOPE II project. These new varieties are more resistant to stresses such as Striga, drought and anthracnose.
- TL III activities contributed to improving the national breeding program in Burkina Faso for new groundnut varieties tolerant to foliar diseases, aflatoxin and drought. The project enabled Farmer Participatory Varietal Selection and community seed production by setting up three multi-stakeholder innovation platforms in major groundnut production areas.
- Training on Breeding Management System (BMS) strengthened trial design as well as data collection, management and analysis. New biotechnology tools in the sorghum and pearl millet breeding programs include the use of Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) and germplasm genotyping for specific traits.
- Preliminary tests of yellow grain millet under Hope II aim to test performance of new high-yielding and nutritious yellow lines to meet farmer’ needs.
Positive impact on gender
In 2016, there were 42 women groundnut seed producers in Burkina Faso. In 2017, about 180 women are now producing community seed on at least 0.25 ha each. This number is expected to increase in the coming years. There are also more individual seed producers that are producing certified seeds.
Dr Jeff Ehlers, Program Manager, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, urged both projects to realize the importance of data, stressing, “There is need to gather high-quality data, including data that will enhance our understanding of the trends, particularly on the gender dynamics”.
- Rotation plans between cereals and legumes as well as intercropping activities to be included. Crop rotation on both projects sites would help increase the quality of the soils.
- Higher investments needed for training young scientists and students as part of ensuring sustainability.
- Research should have measurable impact on smallholder livelihoods.