No. 1546 23 November 2012

Pathways for food security and improved livelihoods
Promoting resilience and profitability for smallholder farming systems in Mozambique

Tropical drylands are too often seen as hopelessly poor, perennially beset by shocks such as drought, trapping communities in poverty and hunger. Building resilient and profitable livelihood systems, however, can turn this around and make dryland farmers ingenious and resourceful. When enabled by scientific innovations, supportive policies and strong partnerships, farmers can increase the productivity of their crops and their incomes by several-fold, while improving the resilience of their lands and livelihoods.

Scientific innovations, supportive policies and strong partnerships help build resilience and profitability for smallholder farming systems in the drylands. (File photo).

A new research initiative on “Developing resilient and profitable rural livelihood systems in semi-arid Mozambique: A conceptual approach” has started with the successful launch of the project on 6-8 November in Manica, Mozambique. Funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), it aims to develop a holistic approach to facilitating the transition towards resilient, profitable, and sustainable livelihood systems in Tete and Manica provinces.

ICRISAT, the Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM), and the Austrian Centre for Development Research (CDR/BOKU) are partners in this project.

At the inception workshop, knowledge and experiences were shared on current farming systems, recent and ongoing research and development interventions, major challenges and opportunities, and the role of innovations in facilitating change. Plans for in-country activities were initiated. A field visit to the Dororo Innovation Platform provided participants the opportunity to discuss priority interventions and reflect on researchable issues.

The project aims to develop a new conceptual approach guided by principles of modern resilience thinking and rural livelihood systems analysis, towards developing and evaluating pathways for increased food security and reduced rural poverty in semi-arid Mozambique. Building resilience in food insecure socio-ecological systems will contribute substantially to the communities’ capacity to absorb shocks and manage change. The project will identify strategies to higher productivity and profitability that are economically and ecologically sustainable and socially acceptable within the communities.

Among those who attended the inception workshop were farmer representatives from the pilot districts, officials from the district and provincial government, research and extension systems, agricultural research organizations, and nongovernment organizations. Representing the partners were: Benjamin Gemo, Provincial Directorate of Agriculture, Tete province; Usebio Folcone, Head of Extension, Manica province; Miguel Magalheas of IIAM; and Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Tilahun Amede, Andre van Rooyen, Dave Harris and Lieven Claessens of ICRISAT.

Mali farmers trained on aflatoxin management

F Waliyar explains to farmers the do’s and don’ts of aflatoxin management. Farmers learn the ropes of good groundnut farming.

More than 200 farmers from 20 villages in Sirakelé and N’Golonianasso in the Koutiala region of Mali participated in a training program on aflatoxin management, along with 30 extension agents from AMASSA AFRICA GREEN (a nongovernment organization), Association Malienne d’éveil au développement durable (AMED), and other NGOs.

The training sessions addressed several issues on aflatoxin management in groundnut, such as good farming practices, use of aflatoxin-resistant varieties, appropriate soil fertility management methods, good harvesting practices, and post-harvest drying and storage techniques. During the on-farm sessions, farmers were introduced to appropriate harvesting, drying and shelling techniques.

On their training experience, participants expressed appreciation for the valuable knowledge acquired on aflatoxin management, promising to put said knowledge into practice on their farms. The chiefs of the villages in the Koutiala region, for their part, encouraged the participants to share the knowledge they gained from the training with other farmers in their respective villages. They also requested the Yérédon Radio Station to regularly broadcast expert interviews to enable other farmers to benefit from learnings and recommendations from the training program.

The various sessions, conducted in French by ICRISAT West and Central Africa (WCA) Director Farid Waliyar were translated into the local language, Bamanan, by Diallo Aoua Traoré.

The training program was part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, which seeks to bring together research-fordevelopment initiatives on agricultural practices, interventions, and policies for better adaptation, to maximize health and nutrition benefits, and to reduce health risks. ICRISAT in collaboration with AMASSA AFRICA GREEN organized the training program.

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Myanmar seals partnership with ICRISAT on enhancing legume-based farming systems

Thein Lwin, Director General, Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) and GV Ranga Rao of ICRISAT exchange MoUs.

Myanmar and ICRISAT firmed up ties with the signing and exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar and ICRISAT on 10 November at the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Yezin, Myanmar.

The event coincided with the Inception Workshop of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-ICRISAT project on “Increasing productivity of legume-based farming systems in the Central Dry Zone (CDZ) of Myanmar”, which has linkages to the ACIAR/AusAID project on rice production in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Bago Divisions.

The multidisciplinary program with five components – grain legumes, rice, fisheries, livestock and socioeconomics – aims to improve the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the CDZ and Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar through research, development and extension, with a strong focus on long-term capacity building. ICRISAT will be responsible for the improvement of grain legumes.

The legumes project inception workshop at Yezin (10-11 November) was followed by a workshop at Yangon (14-16 November), in which 30 delegates representing Australia, ACIAR, ICRISAT, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), WorldFish Center, DAR, Yezin Agricultural University (YAU), and Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT, Myanmar) took part in developing a project with ACIAR and AusAID.

ICRISAT was represented in the workshop by Drs GV Ranga Rao, HD Upadhyaya, KB Saxena and PM Gaur

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Niger official keen on ICRISAT’s high-yielding millet varieties

Mr Hama Amadou (2nd from right), President of Niger’s National Assembly, with ICRISAT staff.

To further strengthen ties and explore opportunities for collaborative research, the President of Niger’s National Assembly, Mr Hama Amadou, recently met with ICRISAT’s Country Representative, Mahamadou Gandah along with millet breeder CT Hash and socio-economist Jupiter Ndjeunga.

The delegation discussed ICRISAT’s collaboration in the areas of education, health, and support to women groups; research and partnerships with the Institut national de recherches agronomiques du Niger (INRAN), non-government organizations (NGOs) and farmers associations; and the Institute’s contribution to major national programs and projects.

Mr Amadou expressed interest in ICRISAT’s rainfed millet, sorghum and groundnut varieties, and in the dissemination channels used for their adoption. He wanted to explore the testing of high-yielding millet varieties from India in Niger. He also promised to support a consortium of seed producers being set up in Niger in testing ICRISAT’s new products developed for millet improvement and crop diversification.

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Benefits of sorghum biofortification showcased at Wageningen

Ashok Kumar speaks on sorghum biofortificaton at the conference.

The application of new technologies is crucial in improving global food and nutritional security and in providing a growing population with enough food, feed and fuel. This was the highlight of the conference on Next Generation Plant Breeding held on 11-14 November at Ede-Wageningen, the Netherlands, commemorating 100 years of plant breeding research at Wageningen UR.

Representing ICRISAT at the conference, Ashok Kumar spoke on “Options for enhancing grain iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) concentrations in sorghum”, recommending the use of gluten-free sorghum instead of wheat and rye for the 7 million people who suffer from Celiac disease in Europe. He elaborated on sorghum’s ability to grow in both tropical and temperate areas, its rich nutrients, drought resilience and amenability to a variety of product preparations.

The conference addressed crucial challenges in plant breeding, and demonstrated its importance in developing elite cultivars to confront agricultural challenges in the next 100 years. Among those who spoke at the conference were: Albrecht Melchinger (University of Hohenheim); Maarten Koornneef and Richard Visser (Wageningen UR);Richard Michelmore (University of California – Davis); and Thomas Debener (Leibniz University, Germany).

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Training course on phenotyping for legume diseases in December

An international training course on “High throughput phenotyping for chickpea and pigeonpea diseases” will be jointly organized by ICRISAT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on 3-8 December at ICRISATPatancheru. The course will comprise of hands-on training in developing greenhouse, controlled environmental and field resistance screening techniques; use of disease rating scales; and identification of improved genotypes, with the staff of the Research Program – Grain Legumes and external experts as resource persons.

For more details on the course, please visit or contact S Pande ( Sharma (mamta. S (

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