ICRISAT and the European Union in Mali exhibit Smart Foods
A recent ‘Smart Food’ exhibition shown on the 14th May as part of the EU-APSAN-Mali (Enhancing Crop Productivity and Climate Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security) project in Mali has attracted a large number of visitors and representatives from the European community to learn about the impacts of highly nutritious and climate resilient crops.
The ICRISAT exhibition booth was visited by H.E Bart Ouvry, Ambassador of the European Union in Mali along with Mr Marchel Gerrmann, Ambassador of the Netherlands, Mr Stefano Antonio Dejak, Ambassador of Italy, Mr Rolf Holmboe , Ambassador of Denmark and the Ambassador of Luxembourg.They were apprised by Ms. Agathe Diama from ICRISAT who provided updates on the EU-APSAN-Mali project in addition to on-going 50th anniversary celebrations of ICRISAT.
The ICRISAT exhibition showcased improved technologies (varieties and hybrids of millet, sorghum, groundnut and cowpea) as well processed products promoted under the UE-APSAN-Mali Project.
The exhibition also provided visitors with an insight into the Smart Food initiative integrated into ICRISAT’s efforts to promote nutrition from breeding to the development of value chains in targeted crops.
It is expected that these efforts will be further highlighted during the upcoming International Year of Millets in 2023 underscoring the valued assistance the EU is providing in supporting the Smart Food Initiative through a dedicated component funded under the EU-APSAN-Mali project.
Global objective of the UE-APSAN-Mali project:
- increasing agricultural productivity in the face of population growth and climate change through the promotion of varieties developed under previous projects;
- improving the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate change and economic vulnerability through innovative demand-driven breeding schemes;
- the efficient exchange of genetic material and data at a regional scale; and
- sustainably strengthening research teams in crop improvement.
The main activities of the project include:
- Modernizing crop improvement stations
- Conducting surveys on the performance of existing varieties and market demand
- Developing market demand, nutrient dense and climate resilient varieties and hybrids
- Participatory evaluation of new varieties
- Raising awareness about existing improved varieties through demonstration plots, rural radios, seed fairs and Smart Food campaigns.
- Building capacity of master and PhD students on modern breeding and associated domains
- Exchanging genetic material and data through joint trials and data management platform at regional level and;
- Strengthening capacity of farmers’ organizations and seed companies in improved varieties seed production techniques through workshops.
The five-year project is funded by the European Union and is expected to benefit 40,000 people in the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro, Ségou and Mopti in Mali.
In just two years major progress has been made towards achieving project objectives. A total of 37 new varieties of sorghum, millet, groundnut and cowpea were promoted by the Project, through 300 demonstrations run by producers.
The project has also reached more than 5,000 producers (37% of whom are women) through the distribution and application of mini seed packets in their own fields. In addition more than 400 seed producers have been trained to ensure the availability and accessibility of seeds of new varieties in different areas where a dozen innovation platforms are now helping to strengthen links between stakeholders.
With the Project’s support, breeding programs are being modernized to quickly and efficiently develop new varieties adapted to the needs of the market.
Through the Smart Food component of the Project, locally produced foods with high nutritional value has taken off with nearly 500 people reached through the training of trainers from 16 villages.