Eastern and Southern Africa

399 million - The number of people living in the region

70% - Percentage that lives in rural areas

85% - The number of extremely poor in the region who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods

ESA - The area most heavily affected by the HIV epidemic

Partnership for synergy - Promoting sorghum and pearl millet in the poultry feed industry

The area under sorghum is declining in India, China and Thailand due to several constraints on both production and marketing. Studies documented the constraints in sorghum farming in project areas (India, China and Thailand), and the major constraints found include (i) Availability and access to improved cultivar seeds and other inputs; (ii) Poor access to cost effective technologies to enhance production; (iii) Absence of farm advisory services to help farmers in taking farm level decisions; (iv) Inability to get timely credit from nationalized banks; and (v) Poor market linkages to industry.

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Collectively we prosper - Adoption of high yielding and wilt resistant pigeonpea in Tanzania and creating new markets

Until recently, pigeonpea was not an important crop in Tanzania, and the national agricultural research system and the government paid very little attention to varietal development and dissemination. The area occupied by pigeonpea was only 65,000 ha (2001-03) and farmers grew traditional long duration and low yielding varieties that are susceptible to pests (pod borers, pod fly, pod sucking bugs) and diseases (fusarium wilt). Small-seeded varieties failed to meet market requirements; market linkages were underdeveloped; and farmers could not access seed of improved varieties because of poor input and technology delivery systems.

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HOPE for the future - Sorghum and finger millet in HOPE Project, Tanzania

Agriculture, contributing to 25% of GDP and employing more than 75 percent of the population, is the mainstay of the economy in Tanzania and has potential to be a key driver of economic growth in the country. Nationally, the poverty level is estimated at 40%, with access to modern technologies cited as a constraint, as only 50% of the demand for improved seed and fertilizers are met. ICRISAT’s HOPE project on productivity and profitability improvement for sorghum and finger millet has project sites in five semi-arid districts of Tanzania namely, Kondoa, Singida Rural, Iramba, Kishapu and Rombo, with a combined population of about 1.5 m people.

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Taste of success - Agri-business Innovation Platform - India and Africa

In the globalized world, imports and exports are playing a major role in determining the economic growth of a country. Major economies of the world have been importing significant amounts of food and agricultural products from developing and under-developed countries. Although, this seems like a win-win situation, importing countries are only importing produce/products that meet the stringent safety norms set forth by their nations. Even developing and under-developed countries are placing a greater importance on the production of quality and safe food that is being either imported into their respective countries or exported from their countries.

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Leading the way to rural development in the Sahel

In the Sahelian countries of Africa, about 80% of the 100 million inhabitants live and work in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Poverty and vulnerability are severe in these areas, and in many cases are worsening for millions of people. Land degradation is one of the major causes of poverty and income inequalities in the Sahel. Other underlying factors are many – harsh climatic conditions, rapidly growing populations, prevalence of diseases and pests, poor development of infrastructure and markets, governance failures, conflicts, and more.

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Regaining ground for Malawi’s groundnut
Three decades of investment in groundnutresearch for development have moved smallholder farmers in Malawi from subsistence to inclusive market-oriented agriculture.
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Just a small dose will do

In Zimbabwe, a bottle cap’s worth of fertilizer applied in the right place at the right me – is leading to dramatic improvements in yields and incomes of smallholder farmers.

Inclusiveness is about bringing life-changing innovations to millions of smallholder farming families who have the biggest needs – techniques that are adapted

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ICRISAT-HOPE sharply increases sorghum yields in Maharashtra, India

HOPE has become reality for 25,000 farmers in dryland Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of the state of Maharashtra, known as the ‘Sorghum Bowl of India’. Initial assessments indicate that their grain yields rose by 40% and fodder yields by 20% on average over the past three seasons (2010-2012) due to improved sorghum varieties and crop management practices, along with improved market linkages. About half of these farmers operate on a very small scale, with landholding size of two hectares or less. Net income (the income that farmers retain after their costs of cultivation are paid for) has increased by 50%, to an average of US$78 per hectare of sorghum grown.

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Shelling groundnuts made easier

ICRISAT’s strategy of inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) was in motion during a recent visit by a team from ICRISAT-Lilongwe and the Eastern Province Farmers’ Cooperative Ltd (EPFC) to Kabunda village to solicit farmers’ opinion on a groundnut shelling machine.


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Pigeonpea in Eastern and Southern Africa

Making markets work for farmers in Eastern Africa
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Crop scientists search for better sorghum variety

Top crop scientists and researchers from Kenya and Tanzania are trying to establish a sustainable sorghum crop capable of multiple uses. The objective is to support the development of new sorghum multi-purpose varieties that are higher yielding and adapted to both biotic and abiotic (insects and diseases) stresses in the arid and semi-arid agro ecologies of eastern Kenya and in the northern and central zones of Tanzania. Researchers from the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Africa Harvest Biotechnology International Foundation (Africa Harvest) have brought together key collaborators and partners to review the project and plan the way forward.


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William Dar advocates easier access to published research

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson spoke of “an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind that it may, at length, reach even the extremes of society: beggars and kings”. He spoke at a time when only a tiny elite had access to education. Yet today, despite the spread of universities, digital libraries and internet access in the developing world, research is not easily available. Among the culprits is academic publishing.

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Eva’s endeavours: a professional path in plant science inspired by Norman Borlaug

Learning about the work of Nobel laureate, Norman Borlaug, in high school inspired Eva Weltzien to become a plant breeder so she too could contribute to improving the living conditions in the developing world. Today, Eva is a Principal Scientist in sorghum breeding and genetic resources at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Mali.

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How to prevent aflatoxin contamination

Aflatoxins are a threat to both human and animal health. And they can result in considerable economic losses. At the CGIAR Science Forum 2013, experts exchanged views on strategies to combat the spread of this fungal poison.

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(Audio) BBC Radio report on Africa Food Security (04:35min)

2014 was declared the African year of Agriculture and Food security. So after the declaration, do you know what your country is doing to keep off hunger? Scientist from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics are already carrying out research to improve the yield and drought resistance in certain crops. The BBC’s Frenny Jowi visited a group of farmers in Busia, Western Kenya who are leading in adopting growing alternative crops such as finger millet, sorghum and cassava to keep their silos and stomachs full all year round.

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External Review Panel on IMOD implementation at ICRISAT headquarters

The Center Commissioned External Review (CCER) panel on Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) implementation is now at the ICRISAT headquarters after completing their review in Eastern and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa. The panel comprising of Dr SS Acharya, India; Dr AA Fall, Senegal; and Ms Grace Ngungi (Kenya) will be here until 28 February. 

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Taking stock of the progress of pigeonpea initiatives with the University of Nairobi

ICRISAT’s collaborations with the University of Nairobi (UoN) on pigeonpea research are showing promising results.
The university now has 11 ha of pigeonpea experiments and quality seed production plots through its involvement in the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes, Tropical Legumes II, European Community – International Fund for Agricultural Development (EC-IFAD)-funded project, and other ICRISAT ongoing projects in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). With assistance from ICRISAT, the university has also renovated its irrigation facilities now being used for its research activities.

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Climate change impact assessment results shared at AgMIP workshop

Results of the systematic, comprehensive, and quantitative assessment of impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural systems and identified adaptation options under the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) were shared among regional researchers, leaders, and stakeholders, at a finish line workshop for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa held in Arusha, Tanzania from 30 January to 4 February.

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Chickpea cultivation gains ground in Kenya

A recent visit by an ICRISAT team to partners and farmers’ fields in Kenya showed good results particularly in the adoption of improved varieties of chickpea by farmers under the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) Project.
Dr Emmanuel Monyo, ICRISAT Principal Scientist and TL II Project Coordinator, and Mr Ibrahim Shiundu, Research Technician, visited Egerton University and met with its Principal Investigator, Dr Paul Kimurto, to monitor TL II activities being undertaken by the university which included development of new chickpea varieties, maintenance of breeding pipelines, and dissemination of improved varieties to farmers.

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ICRISAT adopts gender transformative approach in agricultural research

Empowering women smallholder farmers to overcome the unique hurdles they face in the semi-arid tropics, and thus securing the future of food production and the economic growth in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, was among the key messages at the ICRISAT Asia Regional Planning Meeting.
The meeting held on 10-12 February at the ICRISAT headquarters, acknowledged the significant contributions made by women smallholder farmers and the transformative role they play in dryland agriculture.

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Center Commissioned Expert Review on IMOD

The Center Commissioned Expert Review (CCER) panel on IMOD Implementation, consisting of Dr SS Acharya, India (Chair), Dr AA Fall, Senegal (member) and Ms Grace Ngungi (Kenya) visited ICRISAT’s Eastern and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa offices from 17 January to 2 February.

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Incoming Board Chair visits ICRISAT Ethiopia office

To explore opportunities for further strengthening ICRISAT’s programs and activities, incoming Board Chair Dr Chandra A Madramootoo visited the ICRISAT Ethiopia office on 3-4 February. He held extensive consultations with the ICRISAT staff based in the country office and partners from other CGIAR centers and national institutions.

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Ethiopia honors ICRISAT and partners

Acknowledging ICRISAT’s contributions and long-standing partnership in chickpea research, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) presented a partnership award to the institute. The award was given by Mr Wondirad Mandefro, Minister for Agriculture, Ethiopia and Dr Fentahun Mengistu, Director General of EIAR.

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ICRISAT reaffirms its commitment to promote agribusiness in Africa

“ICRISAT along with its partners in Asia and Africa shall continue to explore, deliberate and bring forth ways and means to promote entrepreneurship in the area of agribusiness and food processing in order to benefit the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar said.
Dr Dar was speaking at the “Asia-Africa Agribusiness Forum” organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) in New Delhi on 4-6 February.

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At the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture ICRISAT shares big ideas to help drive innovation for an agricultural revolution

Responding to the call for game-changing, sustainable agricultural innovations and showing how thinking out of the box can feed the world, ICRISAT shared its big ideas and innovations, such as the crucial role of agribusiness and entrepreneurship to build the economy, at the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA).

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Mapping out a research agenda for a market-oriented and resilient agriculture in Africa

A sustainable and market-oriented agriculture is the way forward in making smallholder farming in Africa more profitable and resilient, and in feeding its growing population using the limited resources available now and in the future.
Enabling farmers to adapt to changing environment and new opportunities, and making markets work for them were some of the key concerns raised at ICRISAT’s regional planning meetings for West and Central Africa on 22-24 January in Bamako, Mali, and for Eastern and Southern Africa on 27-29 January in Nairobi, Kenya.

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5th AgMIP Eastern Africa regional meet - Assessing the impacts of climate change on farming systems in the drylands

Reviewing the progress made in assessing the impacts of climate change on farming systems in the semi-arid tropics and charting the way forward were the prime focus of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvements Project (AgMIP) Eastern Africa’s 5th regional meet held on 6-9 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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India strengthens ties with CGIAR institutions in Ethiopia and Kenya

Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, paid a visit to Ethiopia and Kenya to gain an understanding of the work being carried out by CGIAR centers based in Africa and to identify best practices and information that can be used to strengthen the ongoing developmental programs in the state of Karnataka in India.

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Hybrid pigeonpea showing good potential in Africa

Hybrid pigeonpea technology has great potential in Africa and is viable when applied with minor adjustments for adaptability to the cropping system and farmer/market preferences in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region. This was revealed at a training program organized by ICRISAT in Nairobi, Kenya from 9-13 December.

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