Teams from Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and Sasakawa Africa Association visited ICRISAT-Mali to explore opportunities and forge partnerships to contribute to the sustainable development goals of No Poverty, No Hunger and Climate Action.
Smart Food and climate-smart village initiatives capture the attention of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
Two initiatives that resonate well with the mission of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe in the Sahel, namely, the Smart Food and climate-smart village initiatives, figured prominently in discussions during the team’s visit to ICRISAT-Mali to explore collaboration avenues.
Mr Francesco De Pasquale, Country Director, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, congratulated ICRISAT on winning the African Food Prize 2021 and presented the main areas of intervention of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe in Mali. These include 1) Agriculture, environment and climate change; 2) Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and; 3) Economic development. These areas hold potential for collaboration with ICRISAT.
Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change: The visitors were apprised on ICRISAT’s expertise in producing and scaling up of varieties and hybrids that are high yielding, drought tolerant, dual purpose, biofortified, climate resilient and resistant to pests, diseases and weeds, especially Striga. Developing seed systems by training and building the capacity of seed companies and seed production cooperatives. Building resilience through training/dissemination of good agronomics practices and proven technologies such as fertilizer microdosing and fostering climate-resilient villages.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): Deutsche Welthungerhilfe is particularly interested in activities related to nutrition aligned with the Smart Food initiative for the promotion of nutritious local products. Food safety along with the prevention of aflatoxin contamination in food products was identified as another potential area for collaboration.
Resilience and economic development: The visiting team were keen on learning about climate-smart villages, digital agriculture and the use of information technologies in agriculture. Agribusiness incubators for youth was considered as an important area for collaboration. A critical and crosscutting theme was humanitarian aid and resilience programs in collaboration with other organizations of the United Nations.
“It was an excellent visit, full of food for thought and collaboration. We will get back to you soon to better define the future steps and perspectives of our partnership,” said Mr De Pasquale who participated in discussions with Dr Tabo and his colleagues. A video of ICRISAT winning the African Food Prize 2021 and a presentation by ICRISAT staff Ms Agathe Diama apprised the visitors of the reach and impact of the Smart Food initiative in West Africa and Central Africa.
Mr De Pasquale, accompanied by Mr Hugo Verkuijl, Director of Programs and Mr Katie Sogoba, Assistant to Chief of Project of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, visited the ICRISAT office and regional research station in Mali on October 27.
The meeting concluded with a tour of demonstrations of sorghum and millet varieties and hybrids as well as groundnut plots. Mr Francesco also visited the World Vegetable Center and CIFOR/ICRAF hosted at the ICRISAT Regional Research Center.
CILSS and ICRISAT discuss pathways for future collaborative initiatives in Mali
ICRISAT and CILSS committed to strengthening their collaboration and partnership through jointly developed project proposals to mobilize resources at a meeting on November 10.
Dr Abdoulaye Mohamadou, Executive Secretary of CILSS (Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel) based in Burkina Faso visited ICRISAT-Mali and was accompanied by Dr Mohamed Abdellahi Ebbe, Director General of INSAH based in Bamako and Dr Mahalmoudou Hamadoun Maïga, the new Director General of AGRHYMET based in Niamey.
AGRHYMET is a specialized agency of the CILSS. It has two main objectives – to contribute to food security and increased agricultural production in member countries of CILSS and ECOWAS and to help improve the management of natural resources of the Sahel and West Africa. The Institut du Sahel (Sahel Institute), INSAH, is another specialized institution of the CILSS that is responsible for the coordination, harmonization and promotion of agro-socio-economic and population development research in CILSS now comprising 13 states (including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Togo).
During discussions, Dr Tabo briefed on ICRISAT’s research programs in the region and efforts towards strengthening relations with the partners of the national agricultural research system and regional bodies.
‘‘The aim is for ICRISAT and CILSS including INSAH and AGRHYMET to work and strengthen the partnership between our institutions and jointly mobilize resources for the execution of research activities within the framework of our collaboration,’’ said Dr Tabo. He also informed the visitors of the upcoming 50th anniversary of ICRISAT in 2022 and of the International Year Millets of the UN in 2023. Visitors also congratulated ICRISAT on winning the Africa Food Prize 2021.
Performance of improved sorghum prompts Sasakawa Africa Association (SSA) to partner on seed dissemination initiatives
I was pleasantly surprised during a field visit in Kita region to see the performance of improved sorghum varieties Tiandougoucoura and Soubatimi. SSA is excellent in agricultural extension organization and we can help ICRISAT to better disseminate improved varieties to significantly increase their adoption by farmers and producers,” said Dr Sokona Dagnoko Country Director, who visited the ICRISAT research station in Mali. She was accompanied by Dr Mel Oluoch, the Regional Director.
Dr Sokona Dagnoko said that the main objective of the visit is to strengthen the partnership, particularly with regard to the dissemination of improved varieties of sorghum, millet and groundnut through SSA’s network of farmers in several regions of Mali.
Dr Tabo took the opportunity to reiterate the need to grow more ICRISAT crops, especially sorghum and millet, which have significant nutritional value. “Through the Smart Food campaign, an initiative founded by ICRISAT, we want to build food systems with food that is good for you (highly nutritious), good for the planet and good for smallholder farmers. We are happy to know that SAA can help us promote these crops better among farmers in order to fight food insecurity.”
Dr Sokona Dagnoko invited ICRISAT for developing joint communication materials such as videos and books and for joint campaigns targeting the farming community in Mali.
Both ICRISAT and SAA agreed to further discuss and consolidate their partnership to better help farmers in rural Mali in their battle against food insecurity in the context of climate change.
The delegation from SSA visited ICRISAT-Mali on November 11.
Reported by Ms Agathe Diama, Senior Manager Regional Communications and Information and Mr Moussa Magassa, Executive, West and Central Africa Communications.