Snapshots of ICRISAT Director General, Dr David Bergvinson’s visit to Mali from 18-24 June. Focus on youth in agriculture, seed systems, rural ecosystems, food processing, nutrition and use of digital technologies in agriculture.
Youth in agriculture
Discussions with IER: Transforming the agriculture sector to support young entrepreneurs willing to invest in and apply new innovations to generate incomes; and delivering better nutrition was the focus of discussions with Dr Bourema Dembélé, (third from right) Director General, ‘Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER).
With young agripreneurs: Incubatees of Mali Agri-business Incubation Hub (MAIH), ICRISAT-Samanko.
At the MAIH food processing unit at IER-Sotuba: This hub has emerged as a model in the region.
Meeting seed sector partners in Siby village: High cost of certification, storage costs (rent), lack of access to credit and need for new varieties were discussed at the meeting with cooperative of seed producers in Mande (COPROSEM). Mr Daouda Keita, Mayor of Siby, attended the meeting. The group registered in 2006 with nine members and today over 40 members are hybrid sorghum seed producers. ICRISAT and IER had supported by organizing training on formal seed production, supplying sorghum foundation seed for multiplication and covering the initial cost for constructing a seed store, the labeling and the certification through collaborative projects. Upscaling improved varieties of dryland crops: Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Development (SFSD), a partner, is keen on testing new sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut varieties across the region – starting in Mali and Senegal. Seed of four sorghum hybrids will be provided and six groundnut varieties will be provided by end of June 2017 for testing.
Creating an entrepreneur ecosystem for rural development
Meeting with the World Bank Group: A group of Private Sector, Trade and Competitiveness specialists from the World Bank Group in Mali, led by Mr Alexandre Laure (third from left), discussed the potential of unlocking opportunities for growth and creating an entrepreneur ecosystem for rural development.
Exploring partnership: The Coopérative des Transformatrices de Produits agroalimentaires (CTPA) has been operating since 2003, in cleaning and packaging fonio, pearl millet and sorghum. It is an incubatee of MAIH. The key market constraint this cooperative and many other processing businesses face is the cleaning of the small grain cereals to eliminate sand introduced during harvest and drying.
Potential partnership: Danaya Céréales (Dialakorobougou), a growing business for small cereal packaging and MAIH incubatee, faces constraints on cleaning that is costly (machines plus manual labor) and uses considerable water. Access to reliable machinery, servicing and trained staff is a major constraint to growing the business. At the same time, the export market is growing in France with a growing Malian consumer base.
Exploring avenues with Nestle Mali: Nestlé Company: Potential areas of synergies discussed included the nutrition educational program of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa. (R to L: Dr Traore Oumar Sali, Field Operations Manager Nutrition, Savanna Cluster; Mr Landry Echui, Director Finance; Mr Richard Fowang Wamba, Director General, Nestlé; Agathe Diama, Head Regional Information, West and Central Africa, ICRISAT; Dr David Bervingson, Director General, ICRISAT; and Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, West and Central Africa, ICRISAT.
Working towards aflatoxin-free groundnut products: SAMA –AGRI is a groundnut processor known for its quality and professional packaging. They have established their own aflatoxin lab with ICRISAT support. The company has a representation in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) and is exploring markets for groundnut butter in the US. Future activities could include groundnut oil production. Picture shows Mr Kouma Lassana, President Director General of SAMA-AGRI with his products.
Shared human resources: The Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP-Africa) is very keen on establishing a presence and strengthening its partnership in West and Central Africa. The company will be posting two agronomists at ICRISAT-Bamako and two agronomists at ICRISAT-Niamey to work together to help scale up targeted fertilizer programs in the region.
Use of digital technologies
Assessing the GIS laboratory: The joint Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratory, established in 2000 by IER and ICRISAT has made significant progress with the European Space Agency launch of Sentinel-2. ICRISAT has been working with a team of over 15 students to develop derived products from this imagery using a local server. However, given the size of this data, the usage of cloud computing to develop these derived products that are then downloaded for use and application in Mali is a major challenge given the limited bandwidth and power outages. As a follow-up, the team is looking forward to making better use of 10m2 resolution images from European Space Agency to support ICRISAT work across all it locations.
With the ICRISAT staff
Modernizing ICRISAT’s breeding program for better quality seed support and improved nutrition for consumers, creating jobs for rural youth and entrepreneurs via a growing network of ICT partners both from Africa and India were the main topics touched upon during Dr Bergvinson’s interaction with the ICRISAT staff in Mali. He discussed the country strategies with senior scientists and toured the facilities. Pictures shows Dr Bergvinson interacting with staff at the pathology laboratory in Samanko.