ICRISAT’s standing as an important partner in Zimbabwe’s efforts to build resilient food and nutrition systems was reaffirmed by the Government, donors and development partners in various meetings with ICRISAT staff Dr Rebbie Harawa, Regional Director – Eastern and Southern Africa, and Ms Anita Pirani, Director – Business Development, during their recent visit to the country.
The meetings reiterated the great potential for drought-tolerant cereals such as sorghum and millets, positioned as ‘Future Grains’ for the drier regions of Zimbabwe, indicating timely opportunity for ICRISAT’s scientific interventions.
Contributing to the national strategy: ICRISAT’s important role as a consortium partner working on a national strategy for increasing productivity of drought-tolerant crops like sorghum and millets was acknowledged in a meeting with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.
The Minister Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka and Dr Dumisani Kutywayo, Chief Director in the Department of Research and Specialist Services within the Ministry, informed that the Strategy envisages 200-300 K tons of dryland cereals as part of its 1.5 M tons grain reserves. ICRISAT is working closely with the Government’s Crop Breeding Institute to speed up final trials and release hybrids by the end of 2022.
ICRISAT will also work with the private sector to develop a robust seed system for the hybrids to reach farmers. In the meeting, ICRISAT reaffirmed its commitment to continue working with the Government to complement efforts in improving dryland agriculture. The Government acknowledged the value of the ICRISAT Genebank and emphasized joint fundraising efforts to sustain operations. The Government of Zimbabwe is committed to supporting the facility through the secondment of staff in the short-term and through lobbying for ICRISAT’s financial support at the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2022.
Indian Embassy in Zimbabwe to join efforts in popularizing millets: Potential areas for collaboration were explored in a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, His Excellency, Vijay Khanduja. ICRISAT’s work in dryland regions aligns with the Government of Zimbabwe’s recent call to increase productivity of sorghum and millets and resonates with the Indian Government’s call to the UN to designate 2023 as the International Year of Millets. The Indian Embassy agreed to team up with ICRISAT and the Government to popularize millets for their nutrition, resilience and increased income to farmers.
Revitalizing collaborations with key donors and partners: Partners expressed keen interest to continue working with ICRISAT. The areas of common interest included natural resource management, agribusiness for resilient markets, digital agriculture and climate-smart agriculture. The team held discussion and meetings with the USAID (Economic Growth Office), Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), European Union (EU), UNDP-Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), CARE-Zimbabwe, Save the Children-Zimbabwe, Welthungerhilfe, Econet Wireless (Cassava Smartech Division), the University of Zimbabwe and the Centre for Agriculture and Food Policy (CAFP).