Pearl millet and groundnut on display during the field day.

Joining hands to conserve plant genetic resources for a food secure future in Chad

Pearl millet and groundnut on display during the field day.

Pearl millet and groundnut on display during the field day.

To enhance the capacity of Chad’s national agriculture research system in the conservation of plant germplasm, ICRISAT, through its genebank in Niger, recently organized a training workshop and field day. While the workshop covered important aspects of conservation including planning exploration missions, collection and handling, the field day gave an opportunity to farmers and breeders in Chad to compare landraces of groundnut, pearl millet and sorghum with varieties currently being grown.

A team from ICRISAT’s genebank in Niamey, Niger, organized the training workshop from 13 to 15 October in N’Djamena, Chad, for the staff of Institut Tchadien de Recherche Agronomique pour le Développment (ITRAD), Chad’s premier national organization overseeing agriculture research in the country. The workshop participants included the national genebank manager, breeders, research technicians, agriculture extension agents and other partners working on plants genetic resources.

The workshop covered germplasm collection, including exploration mission preparation, handling of collected samples during exploration, capturing details as per the MCPD FAO/Bioversity standards, installation of field book application on phones and its utilization during collection. It also conveyed the importance of traditional knowledge in plants genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), farmers’ rights and key aspects of the International Treaty on PGRFA. The training concluded with germplasm management, including its characterization and evaluation.

The workshop was followed by the field day on 19 October at ITRAD, Ndjamena. A first-of-its-kind event, the field day was themed around climate resilience and was titled “Sahelian agriculture challenges in the context of Climate change”. In preparation for the field day, ICRISAT Niamey Genebank staff had repatriated in June landraces (50 groundnut, 42 pearl millet and 48 sorghum) that were collected in Chad between 1988 and 1997. These were planted for demonstration on the field day.

Breeders and farmers witnessed the diversity in germplasm conserved in ICRISAT’s genebank at Niamey and also saw the agronomical performance of landraces originating in Chad. Not only did the field day provide an opportunity to compare landraces and varieties currently grown, it also gave breeders and farmers a chance to select best accessions to build resilience to climate change in agriculture.

Minister Mayanan (right) during visits the demonstration fields.

Minister Mayanan (right) during visits the demonstration fields.

Ms Kamouge Déné-Assoum Mayanan, Minister of Agriculture Development, Chad, highlighted the need for continued efforts and international collaboration for sustainable agriculture and food security in drylands in the face of climate change. She recalled the commitment of Chadian government to continue supporting all initiatives and partnerships contributing to end hunger, reduce malnutrition and preserve the environment. The minister thanked participants and expressed gratitude to ICRISAT and Crop Trust, which funded a germplasm collecting proposal in Chad during 2020 and 2021.

Dr Yassine Daouda, Director General, ITRAD, pointed out the benefits of the germplasm collection project for Chad while underscoring the importance of safeguarding biodiversity worldwide. He reiterated ITRAD’s commitment to ensuring food security in Chad and beyond.

Prof Hamidou Falalou, Regional Manager for ICRISAT’s Niamey Genebank, echoed Dr Daouda’s thoughts on the importance of genebanks in conservation and management of PGRFA. He further said that ICRISAT sharing improved varieties to ITRAD in 2019 and the recent collaborative germplasm collecting project are testimonies to the long-standing collaboration between the two organizations that share the same mission and vision. Prof Hamidou reaffirmed ICRISAT’s commitment in sharing of germplasm for the benefit of Chad.

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