Project partners and donors representing the European Union Delegation and the Embassies of Belgium and Sweden in Mali discussed technology generation, delivery and partnerships for larger livelihood impact when they visited the ICRISAT-West and Central Africa hub in Mali on 15 October 2021. They noted the advanced research and production facilities at the premises at the Samanko research station.
Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT-West and Central Africa, welcomed the visitors and introduced them to the scientists for discussions on the ongoing research in ICRISAT mandate crops at the center.
The visit started at the main conference hall with a film on ICRISAT a t 2022, a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the institute, a video on the mid-term achievements of the UE-APSAN-Mali project, a video of the Smart Food initiative and another on the Africa Food Prize 2021 which was won by ICRISAT. All four videos provided an overview of ICRISAT’s Research for Development engagements in West and Central Africa (WCA).
The delegation toured ICRISAT’s facilities – screenhouses, cold stores, labs and fields, the demonstration fields of pearl millet, sorghum and groundnut, and also the hosted institutions at Samanko, including the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg).
A highlight of the visit to ICRISAT research facilities was the new centralized regional crop breeding section, where the seed processing and storage facilities are being renovated and upgraded, and also the screenhouses which are being refurnished to carry out crossings, rosette and downy mildew disease screening, and the rapid generation advancement facilities. The delegation then visited the equipment shed holding various new planting, harvesting and seed processing equipment. All these investments were evidence of ICRISAT’s efforts to modernize its regional breeding hub research activities in line with the new Crop Improvement Operations Team (CIOT).
The visit to ICRISAT pathology laboratory highlighted the importance of controlling aflatoxin contamination in crop and food systems in West Africa by ICRISAT and its NARS partners.
On the field, the visitors were shown demonstration plots of pearl millet, sorghum and groundnut that were released in Mali and other countries in WCA, or were in the pipeline. The delegates viewed improved crop breeding materials such as dual-purpose sorghum varieties and hybrids yielding up to 5 tons/ha, pearl millet varieties and hybrids such as the biofortified pearl millet Chakti, rich in iron and zinc. Chakti caught the attention of the visitors for its nutritional composition to combat micronutrient malnutrition in WCA. Improved varieties of groundnut tolerant to drought and aflatoxin and resistant to foliar diseases also captured a lot of attention.
The field visits generated extensive discussions on technology generation, delivery and partnerships for larger livelihood impact in the region. The delegation was impressed with the diversity of lines and hybrids in the pipelines of the breeding material available with ICRISAT and they appreciated the management and the scientists for their efforts in supporting the resource-poor farmers of WCA.
The visitors congratulated ICRISAT, WorldVeg and CIFOR-ICRAF for the significant achievements and progress made. Before leaving the research station, the visitors were served Smart Food snacks made from sorghum and pearl millet. The visit ended with a signing of the ICRISAT-Mali guest book. The Embassy of Sweden was represented by Mr Richard Bomboma and Ms Johanna Gårdesten; the Embassy of Belgium by Ms Marie Goretti Ntahombaye and Ms Sidibe Djita Dagnon; and the EU Delegation by Mr Abdoulaye Kabdaogo and Ms Stephanie Schrevere. The EU is funding the ongoing UE/EU-APSAN-Mali project.
Reported by: Ms Agathe Diama, Senior Manager, Communications and Regional Information, ICRISAT-WCA, with inputs from Dr Ousmane Sanogo, Lead-CIOT; Dr Mohamed Riyazaddin, Millet Breeder; Dr Nadine O Worou, Senior Program Manager; Dr Hailemichael Desmae, Lead-Regional Breeding; and Dr Baloua Nebie, Sorghum breeder, all from ICRISAT-WCA.
For more on our work in crop improvement, click here.