Promoting improved crop varieties, strengthening seed systems and nutrition sensitive agriculture were identified areas of intervention that can help Sudan transform its food and agro-pastoral systems. Representatives of IFAD, WFP and ICRISAT, during a recent consultative meeting, identified these areas and others where they could work together in Sudan. Other areas identified include sustainable intensification and multi-level capacity building.
Ms Rasha Omar, IFAD Country Director for Sudan, presented IFAD Sudan’s strategic objectives for 2021-2027, which focuses on strengthening resilience of vulnerable rural populations and their production systems, addressing food and nutrition insecurity and climate change in rainfed areas, and improving the performance of key agricultural value chains in the rainfed agro-pastoral states.
Dr Rebbie Harawa, Regional and Research Program Director, ICRISAT-Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), informed the delegation that ICRISAT’s work to reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty and degraded environment has poised it well to drive transformation in the region. She highlighted ICRISAT’s abilities to generate and deliver crop and agronomic technologies, pointing to selected regional impacts, such as the 228 varieties of sorghum (94), millets (29), groundnuts (45), chickpea (39) and pigeonpea (21) that were released; tonnage of seeds distributed, farms and landscapes restored and cross-sectoral capacities built in the region during the last decade.
Bolstering sorghum and millet value chains
Sorghum is the most important crop in Sudan, contributing to 75% of food grains with multiple uses – food, fodder and feed, followed by the millets which contribute 19% of the food grains with multiple uses. Nonetheless, Sudan is able to meet only 2,000 tons of its 96,000-ton annual national seed requirement. Sorghum is also one of the primary cereal crops in Africa, with 44 million ha or 62% of global sorghum acreage. In ESA, sorghum is the third most popular cereal crop and is grown in 12% of the cereal cultivation area.
Ms Mio Nozoe, Country Programme Officer, UN-WFP, presented WFP’s focus interventions in the value chain, for example post-harvest, farmer to market approach and market analyses critical for sorghum and millet crops. She also cited the crop intervention in school feeding program as a potential area that WFP Sudan Country Office can benefit by collaborating with ICRISAT.
Dr Harawa referred to the ongoing 4-year project, Strengthening Sorghum and Millets Value chains for Food, Nutritional and Income Security in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SOMNI) Kenya & Tanzania project, funded by IFAD, which has had several achievements and offers several takeaways for Sudan. These include release of high-yielding, nutrient-dense, early-maturing, and stress-resistant 14 sorghum and six finger millet varieties; establishing seed production and delivery mechanisms; distributing over 730 tons of seeds of different classes; introducing mechanization for the smallholder agro-pastoral communities; and capacity building for 90,000 farmers and 166 women’s groups.
Ms Omar suggested that the collaboration pick up from where ICRISAT left during its last assignment in North Kordofan, Sudan. Under the leadership of Dr Eric Manyasa, Cereal Breeder at ICRISAT-ESA, ICRISAT had implemented a one-year project in Sudan that was led by the Government of Sudan.
Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Assistant Director General-External relations, ICRISAT, strongly recommended the idea of bringing government on board from the onset, and also pointed out the criticality of working in a consortium, building on existing networks and avoiding duplications.
Dr Andre van Rooyen, Principal Scientist and ICRISAT’s interim Country Representative in Ethiopia, briefed the delegation of the centrality and successes ICRISAT has had with public-private sector using a multi-stakeholder approach for integration of crop-livestock systems. Through this approach, ICRISAT has developed key agricultural value chains, unearthed and fixed market gaps, enhanced processing, redistribution of by-products back to the system to generate circularity and reduced the amounts of wastages and inputs required. “In the long-run, ICRISAT has built self-sustaining crop-livestock systems, integrated optimal irrigation systems; and upon exit, left behind sustainable systems,”
Dr van Rooyen said.
For more on ICRISAT in Sudan, click here.