ICRISAT and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have announced a new partnership that synergizes their strengths. ICRISAT’s improved crop varieties and value chain development technology will be leveraged alongside AGRA’s extensive seed systems networks to fill gaps in market access for early maturing varieties , high-yielding and nutritious drought-tolerant crops in Africa.
Speaking at the AGRA-ICRISAT partnership meeting, Dr. George Bigirwa, Assistant Vice President for Program Development and Innovations, AGRA, noted that the partnership will focus on four areas:
- Climate change: ICRISAT is working on Drought Tolerant Crops (DTC) such as sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet and pigeon pea which are important crops to cope with climate change;
- Diversification: AGRA plans to integrate TTTs into their value chains;
- Nutrition: This is a daunting challenge in most countries given the civil wars, conflicts and global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation calls for the incorporation of robust DTCs.
- Gender inclusion: Some of the crops under ICRISAT’s mandate play an important role in achieving gender inclusion, especially for women who consider TTTs as their main source of income and nutrition.
Dr. Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT, reiterated Dr. Bigirwa’s statement on the four areas of partnership that will be strengthened through knowledge and capacity development, technology dissemination, land systems intensification drylands, natural resource management, seed systems and value chain development. , trade linkages, precision and digital agricultural technologies and agricultural mechanization. “The visit of ICRISAT’s Director General, Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, to AGRA’s office in Nairobi indicates the institute’s desire to work closely with AGRA,” said Dr. Kumar.
During the discussion, AGRA presented its strategic plan which emphasizes climate adaptation and resilience to help farmers cope with climate change, and inclusivity so that women and youth can benefit from agricultural development. They also highlighted that their areas of work include seed systems, sustainable agriculture, and inclusive markets and trade.
ICRISAT highlighted its focus areas in accelerated crop improvement (breeding modernization and cultivar improvement); Nutrition-sensitive integrated initiatives (biofortification, smart food initiative, food processing techniques and food security); Climate change adaptation and mitigation (climate-smart options, timely weather information and resilient varieties); reframe agro-food research systems (market linkages, mechanization and value addition); Expand scaling-up approaches through agribusiness and agri-tech entrepreneurship; and Scaling up landscapes and community livelihoods.
In addition, ICRISAT has invested in knowledge and capacity development through an Inclusive Learning Academy for Drylands (iLEAD) model and has strategically positioned itself for South-South collaboration in agricultural technologies, digital agriculture for the transformation of food systems, mechanization, agro-industry and water and soil management.
The team agreed to initiate the collaboration by disseminating available technologies to farmers as they work on other opportunities. Technologies include improved varieties developed by ICRISAT, aflatoxin management, mechanization, reduction of post-harvest losses, capacity building and targeting of DTCs in crop network groups.
The team also plans to leverage Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture’s ongoing work for millers to mix maize meal with crops like sorghum, millet and sweet potato, which will ensure sufficient food production. , will promote the production and marketing of local cereals as well as DTC, to improve farmers’ incomes. The initiative is part of the president’s Big 4 agenda, aimed at contributing to “100% food and nutrition security by 2022”. This is also in line with the 2012 World Declaration on Nutrition which Kenya endorsed by passing mandatory legislation on food fortification, intended to reduce the prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
With the UN declaring 2023 the International Year of Millet, the two institutions have agreed to work with national governments in Africa to raise awareness about millet.