A recently launched project, with a focus on iron- and zinc-fortified hybrids and open-pollinated varieties of sorghum and pearl millet, anticipates improved food and nutrition security for 120,000 smallholder households in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The three-year project will see collaboration between the private sector (seed companies and agro dealers), civil society (NGOs), multi-stakeholder platforms (Hybrid Parents Research Consortium) and several other partners. Successful knowhow and technologies such as automated data collection and analysis, locally adapted communication tools, will be leveraged from earlier projects in the region to be used in this project.
This project ‘Improving productivity and food security for smallholder farmers in West Africa through the use of high-yielding and nutritious varieties and hybrids of sorghum and millet (ESPHYV)’ is funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and will run from 2020 to 2022. ESPHYV is led by ICRISAT and implemented in partnership with the national research systems (IER-Mali and INERA-Burkina Faso) as well as with five farmers’ organizations: AMSP and UGCPA in Burkina Faso, AOPP and ULPC in Mali and Mooriben in Niger (see box for details).
The project was launched via videoconference on May 04, 2020, due to the global health situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional and Research Program Director, West and Central Africa, ICRISAT, chaired the launch session.
Dr Baloua Nebie, Coordinator and Principal Investigator of the project, said that ESPHYV aimed to promote the technologies developed in previous projects such as BMZ-heterosis, McKnight-Seed II and III, and HOPE I and II, in synergy with other ongoing projects such as Networking4Seed, AVISA and UE-APSAN-Mali.
While Dr Nebie presented the project’s objectives, partnerships, implementation strategies, budgeting, Dr Felix Badolo, Agricultural Economist, presented the indicators, monitoring and evaluation plan, introducing the MEASURE platform as a means of data collection and reporting. Dr Jummai Yila, Scientist, Gender Research, and Mr Almamy Sylla, Assistant, Gender Research, explained how gender would be integrated in the design and implementation of activities. The gender integration approach consists of targeting, reaching, benefiting and empowering women and youth.
Participants identified activities for implementation in the first year, considering the specific context of COVID-19. Thus, 90% of project activities will start in the first year, and include demonstrations of new hybrids and OPVs; capacity building of farmers and other stakeholders, the establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms, and development and use of communication tools adapted to the socio-economic context of farmers. To make the project results sustainable, all partners will collaborate through demonstration activities and by linking farmers with input suppliers and output buyers.