An important delegation from CORAF – the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development – visited ICRISAT in Mali to identify partnership avenues for a project funded by Swiss Cooperation. The Swiss project aims to contribute to the food, nutritional and economic security of more than 10 million people, including 50% women and 60% young people in five countries in West and Central Africa.
The CORAF delegation led by Ms Safouratou Adaripare, Director of Management Services and Ms Nicole Nkoum, Program Officer, visited ICRISAT and hosted institutions CIFOR-ICRAF and World Vegetable Center in Mali. The visitors shared details of the TARS Pro (Agricultural Technologies and Innovations for Increasing the Resilience of Production Systems and Family Farms in West and Central Africa) project and its objectives. TARS Pro is funded by the Swiss Cooperation and will be implemented in five countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad) with partner institutions.
TARS Pro aims to contribute to create a bridge between research and smallholders, promote gender equity, youth employment, and facilitate market access to farmers with attractive volumes, prices and quality. The expected project outcomes are as follows:
- Increase the resilience of the food production system of at least 2 million producers/processors (including 50% of women and 60% of young people) in the 5 targeted countries and more than 10 million indirect beneficiaries;
- Sustainably meet the demand for know-how (technologies and innovations) of at least 40% of family farms affected by the intervention of the project; and
- Ensure synergy of actions of actors in the agricultural sector transformation.
Ms Nicole Nkoum said that TARS Pro will be implemented via competitive projects and commissioned projects. Calls for proposals and contracting of selected partners are in the offing and very soon, an orientation and engagement meeting will be organized with various stakeholders in country-wise workshops said Ms Nkoum. Discussions with the delegation also focused on: (1) partnership models that can be used for coordinating international research organization interventions (the case of Africa Rising project was shared); (2) the relevance of technologies and value chains to meet the real needs of communities.
The delegation was briefed about the regional research program of ICRISAT in West and Central Africa, the staff capacity and research infrastructure, including an aflatoxin laboratory in Mali and a regional gene bank in Niger. Research achievements on dissemination of improved climate resilient varieties, good agronomic practices, Smart Food value chains development were shared with the visitors. “Effective execution of ICRISAT projects is through public-private partnerships which include the national agricultural research systems, extension services, NGOs, farmers’ organizations and seed companies,” said Dr Aboubacar Toure, Senior Scientist-Sorghum Breeding, West and Central Africa Program, who took the visitors on a guided field tour soon after the meeting.
While visiting the off-season sorghum and groundnut trials where varietal breeding cycles are shortened, the delegates showed interest in ICRISAT’s crop breeding approach that takes into account farmers’ preferences. At the pathology laboratory, the visitors were briefed on the major public health and economic challenges caused by aflatoxin infestation in crops.
Interaction with hosted institutions:
World Vegetable Center: Representing the center, Dr Jean-Baptiste Tignegre, briefed about the contribution of his institution to the reduction of poverty and malnutrition through research and development on vegetable crops. The visitors where shown the facility for vegetable conservation and processing and briefed on techniques of preserving vegetables using the ‘Zero Energy Cooling Chamber’ and soil-less allotment gardens.
World Agroforestry Centre: Mr Ibrahim Toure, researcher at CIFOR-ICRAF, made a presentation of the institution’s strategic plan from 2018 to 2026. Visitors were briefed on technologies being developed toward achieving conservation agriculture, enhancement of local species, diversification of production systems, improvement of genetic materials and their reintroduction at the community level, dissemination of technologies through the establishment of rural resource centers. At the regional nursery, visitors were briefed on the process of domestication of trees and local species in a sustained way, improving productivity and profitability of trees, and improving the nutritional status of rural and urban populations.
The CORAF delegation visited ICRISAT in Mali on April 15.
Reported by ICRISAT staff – Ms Agathe Diama, Head Regional Information and Dr Nadine O Worou, Program Officer
For more about ICRISAT work in West and Central Africa visit EXPLOREit