Due to travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, virtually toured several stations in East and Southern Africa (ICRISAT ESA) – Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
A focus on exploring opportunities to make quantifiable impact is critical, she said, speaking during meetings with staff where she emphasized on the importance of institutional visibility of our program and the impact we are making globally for purposes of keeping the mission and work of ICRISAT well positioned as we move into the future and as we transition into one CGIAR.
According to Dr Hughes, impact can be made by ensuring that ICRISAT’s research work addresses the needs of target beneficiaries while conserving the natural and environmental resources; paying stronger attention to our partners and funders when need arises.
She commended the staff for ensuring that ICRISAT’s work continued despite the effects of COVID-19 especially, governments’ measures and policy responses to contain the spread of the disease. Staff were encouraged to double down on research efforts, particularly where containment measures have eased. The measures and policy responses to the crisis have disrupted agro-input supply chains, and led to labor shortage and price fluctuations, which have had significant impacts on food security across the continent. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), reported that Africa’s GDP growth is expected to drop from 3.2% to about 2% due to the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic, pushing millions further into extreme poverty.
According to Dr Rebbie Harawa, Regional Program Director-ESA, ICRISAT, the virtual tour was timely and served as an inspiration to the staff who have braced the COVID- 19 pandemic to keep ICRISAT’s work ongoing. The staff who had the opportunity to listen and ask questions to the DG were delighted to hear from her and are also looking forward to a physical visit to the locations.
The meetings which were held for Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia included zoom meetings with the staff and videos showcasing offices, field stations, laboratories and storage facilities for the ESA region. Dr Hughes called on all regional hubs to compile such location videos as learning material so that all staff can understand activities in other regions and countries.