8) ICRISAT and Senegal strengthen partnership for food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods of the poor

Dakar, Senegal (8 April 2013) – The Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have committed to a stronger and more strategic partnership to harness the power of agricultural research-for-development in achieving food and nutrition security and in fighting poverty in Senegal.

ICRISAT Board members and management with ISRA-CERAAS officials and staff at the CERAAS station in Bambey, Senegal.

“Food security is on top of our government’s priority. We are addressing this through initiatives to improve the production of millet, sorghum, maize and rainfed rice,” said Dr Macoumba Diouf, Director General of ISRA, during the visit of the ICRISAT Governing Board members and management to ISRA’s largest research station in Bambey and the Centre d’étude regional pour l’amélioration de l’adaptation à la sécheresse (CERAAS) near Dakar on 6 April.

“Coping with drought, poor soils and exposure to pests and diseases and climate change are some of the major challenges for research in Senegal,” Dr Diouf added in his comprehensive orientation briefing of ISRA’s crop research initiatives, challenges and successes. Highlighting the importance of rainfed agriculture in the country in which 96% of its workforce depends on, he led the ICRISAT team on a field tour of the Bambey station to show the different varieties of crops being tested in the harsh drylands of Senegal.

“Our partnership with ICRISAT through the years has been very beneficial to our country, highlighted by nearly 3,000 varieties of sorghum exchanged between ICRISAT and ISRA as well as nearly 200 varieties of groundnut and 100 varieties of pigeonpea,” stressed Dr Samba Thiaw, Director of the Centre National de Recherches Agronomiques de Bambey (CNRA – Bambey). Groundnut is one of the two most important sources of foreign exchange income in Senegal (along with cotton).

Dr Thiaw also acknowledged ICRISAT’s important role in ISRA’s research initiatives, particularly in varietal development and in training and capacity building of scientists in cereals, legumes and natural resources. He noted the many ISRA scientists who have spent time at the ICRISAT headquarters in India for training on crop breeding/improvement, opening vast opportunities for joint research undertakings.

“I am very excited to be here to witness the value of the ICRISAT and ISRA partnership. To see the many ICRISAT varieties being used in research here and benefiting the country and its people, this shows that we have chosen our partners well,” according to Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair.

Dr Meryl Williams, ICRISAT Board member, noted the decades of collaboration between ICRISAT and ISRA that have generated a strong system for knowledge sharing and support in pursuit of a common commitment to improve the livelihoods of the poor.

ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar, meanwhile affirmed a strong support to elevate the partnership between ISRA and ICRISAT with the CGIAR Research Programs as the platform. ICRISAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.

ICRISAT is leading two global, strategic research partnerships – the CGIAR Research Programs on GrainLegumes and DrylandCereals “which aim to help provide nutritious, drought-resilient crops for the dryland poor.” In response to Dr Dar’s statement of support, Dr Diouf has offered to host the implementation of some CGIAR Research Program activities in Senegal.

Dr Dave Hoisington, ICRISAT Deputy Director General for Research, promised to explore leadership opportunities for ISRA through the CGIAR Research Programs, as well as to continue the capacity building program for ISRA scientists.

The ICRISAT Board members and management also visited the CERAAS, the regional research centre on improvementment of drought tolerance – a national center of ISRA open to regional cooperation. Dr Ndiaga Cisse, Director of CERAAS, pointed out that his organization, which focuses on crop adaptation to drought, benefits much from its collaborative work with ICRISAT on dryland cereals such as sorghum, pearl millet and fonio, as well as on legumes such as groundnut, sesame and cowpea.

ISRA is currently hosting ICRISAT’s 68th Governing Board meeting in Dakar, Senegal from 6 to 10 April. The field visit to Bambey on 6 April was part of the week-long activities of the Board. A partnership day/press conference is also scheduled on 8 April to celebrate the strengthened partnership between ICRISAT and its partners in the West and Central African region, as well as to discuss highlights of research and new opportunities for collaboration and sharing of expertise and resources among partners.

For media enquiries, contact: Showkat Nabi Rather, Media Liaison Officer, +91 40 3071 3187, R(dot)Showkat(at)cgiar(dot)org. or Cristina P Bejosano, Head, Media Relations and Science Writing, Tel: +91 40 30713236, C(dot)Bejosano(at)cgiar(dot)org
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