A key meeting was convened between the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics and National Agriculture Research System (NARS) partners to discuss future of the AVISA project in eastern and southern Africa.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, ICRISAT Director General, and Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT Deputy Director General- Research assured the institute’s commitment toward implementation of AVISA project across Africa to partners from the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARO), National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR).
The Director General of ICRISAT spoke about the institute’s mission to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics, elaborated on the decision to become an autonomous body and the other changes taking place in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Dr Jacqueline Hughes said, “ICRISAT declined to join the unified governance for the one CGIAR but remains an independent center under the CGIAR considering there was no clear place for the dryland legumes and cereals in the one CGIAR and opportunities for funding these crops were also ambiguous.”
“ICRISAT’s standing comes with implications including some donors terminating some funding under projects like AVISA and funding coming through sub-contracts, and USAID Washington. However, funding is coming in and new donors are showing interest in supporting ICRISAT’s research work.”
“It was anticipated that by end of December 2021, ICRISAT’s eligibility as a CGIAR center would no longer be tenable and hence, cease to exist as a partner of one CGIAR like any other organizations for example NARO, TARI, EIAR, ICIPE, CIFO-ICRAF, World Vegetable Center, ICPA, INBA etc. Some of the CGIAR centers have been reorganized internally as a result of these reforms but ICRISAT remains as it was and remains a strong partner for the NARS,” said Dr Hughes.
Dr Arvind Kumar, ICRISAT DDG-R highlighted ICRISAT and partners’ efforts for a resilient food system in drylands across Africa. He assured that ICRISAT will continue to work with NARS partners on research on different traits and seed systems, will fulfill its role in AVISA and utilize other resources and bring new donors.
NARS leadership acknowledged ICRISAT’s contribution for achieving sustainable agriculture in the drylands. Dr Mkamilo, the Director General of TARI spoke highly of his two-decade-old association with ICRISAT. He said that TARI has a mandate to conduct research but cannot transform agriculture alone and without help from partners like ICRISAT. NARO’s Dr Ambrose said, “ICRISAT comes to the top of our minds for best crop varieties and its focus on the ground to deliver. The institute has also supported NARS in the training of scientists and capacity building. We have built a relationship with ICRISAT over a long time and cannot be discarded.”
Dr Tai Tadesses appealed for partnerships in the future and highlighted the impact of collaborative efforts and said, “In the past 12 years, EIAR has worked with ICRISAT in HOPE project supported by BMGF, that has transformed over 12,000 households.”