Dr Clare Mukankusi, Plant Breeder, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), speaking at the inaugural session. Photo: PS Rao and Anjaiah

Tropical Legumes III: Strategies for wider reach and deeper impacts

Dr Clare Mukankusi, Plant Breeder, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), speaking at the inaugural session. Photo: PS Rao and Anjaiah

Dr Clare Mukankusi, Plant Breeder, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), speaking at the inaugural session. Photo: PS Rao and Anjaiah

During the recently concluded Tropical Legumes III (TL III) annual meeting, plant breeding programs were assessed and specific product concepts were discussed for all mandate crops of the project in every target country. Special attention was paid to communicating the research work and its effects more effectively across the globe.

Following were the project outputs:

  • Generated self-assessment tools for each crop breeding program – Breeding Program Assessment Tools (BPAT) – in every target country to identify areas of strength to capitalize on, and areas of weakness to improve upon, in order to realize enhanced genetic gains
  • Successfully developed product profiles and worked out breeding pipelines towards achieving specific product concepts for each crop in each target country
  • Updated the seed production targets and outlined adoption road maps for new varieties
  • Received feedback on gender integration activities along the legumes value chains
  • Mapped out publications, communications and data-sharing plans to enable a wider audience for the work done by TL III and its impacts

The team also agreed to work on a special issue of tropical legumes publication highlighting learning, experiences and impacts of the TL III project over the years.

Dr Chris Ojiewo, Project Coordinator TLIII, outlined the specific objectives of the meeting:

  1. Discussing breeding program self-assessment of each NARS program and setting baselines for program improvement
  2. Developing product concepts for more focused breeding and improved breeding process pipelines
  3. Updating seed production targets and gender-responsive variety adoption road maps
  4. Devising a plan for data sharing, management, analysis and publication of project achievements in various forms of communication products, with an emphasis on scientific journals.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, emphasized the need for NARS partners to objectively evaluate their breeding programs, work out strategies for improvement and also to implement action plans on the seed road maps while working towards digitalizing the process. He underlined the importance of shared learning and experiences between the TL III and HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement for Sorghum and Millets) projects.

Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, emphasized the need to harness new tools and approaches in modern breeding to develop varieties that farmers need and solve problems related to poor yields and poor access to high-quality seed. He reiterated the importance of legumes for health, nutrition and incomes of smallholder farmers.

Mr Sory Diallo, representing the NARS, outlined the great support that they have been receiving over the years partnering with the CGIAR centers in the Tropical Legumes Project to access genetic and genomic resources as well as advanced breeding lines. He also appreciated the support for putting in place proper structures for functional legume seed systems by establishing up-to-date seed production plans and adoption road maps.

The TL III initiative, conceived in 2007-08, aims to develop improved cultivars of common bean, cowpea, chickpea and groundnut, and deliver their seed at scale to smallholder farmers. The annual meeting of TL III was held at ICRISAT-India on 26-27 February, and was attended by over 90 participants from the participating countries.

Project: Tropical Legumes III
Funder: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Partners: CIAT, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and National Agricultural Research System (NARS) institutions in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and India.
This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal

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