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ICRISAT, ISRA, CORAF/WECARD's Partnership Day highlights food security
Saturday, 13 April, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dakar
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Partnership is the key to overcoming poverty and food insecurity which remain serious challenges in the dryland tropics of the world, affecting about 700 million people living on less than $2 a day. The potential of partnership in advancing food security and poverty reduction is increasingly evident especially with new ways of agricultural research-for-development collaborations.

This was highlighted at the Partnership Day organised by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) held on April 8, 2013 in Dakar, Senegal.

“We are committed to strengthen and stimulate our partnerships in West and Central Africa (WCA). We are witnessing a new partnership dynamic in pursuing food security, poverty alleviation and other development goals – one where public and private institutes and organisations and governments work hand-in-hand to better serve the smallholder farmers in the drylands,” emphasised Dr William Dar, director general, ICRISAT.

ICRISAT, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is leading two global strategic research partnerships – the CGIAR Research Programmes on Grain Legumes and on Dryland Cereals – to help boost food and nutrition and improve livelihoods particularly of the dryland poor. Dr Dar added, “Under these programmes, national and regional organisations like ISRA and CORAF/WECARD will play more significant roles in ensuring that research results benefit the smallholder farmers.”

The Partnership Day primarily aims at strengthening ties and exploring new opportunities for collaboration and sharing of expertise and resources between ICRISAT and its partners in West and Central Africa. The potential of South-South cooperation between India and Africa was also highlighted, especially in the context of the ICRISAT South-South Initiative (IS-SI).

“Two years ago, we launched the IS-SI aimed at building upon the already strong and successful India-Africa partnership to scale up its role as a driver of prosperity and economic opportunities in the dryland tropics,” said Dr Nigel Poole, chair, ICRISAT governing board.

“With the support from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) headed by its Director General, Dr S Ayyappan, who is also Vice-Chair of the ICRISAT Board, this partnership mode is now moving incredibly fast,” Dr Poole added.

In a very short time, six innovation platforms have been set up in Africa done in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) involving five countries – Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia – primarily to address value chains of sorghum, banana, mango, livestock and agroforestry.

“IS-SI is unlocking the entrepreneurship of people in these countries and improving the process of knowledge exchange between India and Africa,” Dr Poole pointed out.

Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, executive director, CORAF/WECARD highlighted his organisation’s common mission with ICRISAT and CGIAR. “CORAF/WECARD provides opportunities and facilitates CGIAR research partnerships with national organisations in the region. We have a growing strength of collaboration with ICRISAT and other CGIAR centres, as well as similar and complementary interests and willingness to work together to improve the well-being of the poor.”

“Our partnerships respond to priorities of WCA on food security and livelihood improvements. Together with ICRISAT and the CGIAR, we create value addition in investments structured to ensure economies of scale and spillover effects in countries in the region,” Dr Roy-Macauley added.

“There are many people to whom feed and climate change is a continuing challenge. We can do more together to advance development and poverty reduction in WCA,” said Dr Macoumba Diouf, director general, ISRA.

“In the drylands, farmers often cannot produce enough food to feed the household so there is no surplus income for them to afford inputs to further invest and improve their production. To break this cycle, ICRISAT works through the inclusive market-oriented development (IMOD) approach. Inclusiveness means the farmers need to be at the centre of being involved. We believe we can overcome challenges and achieve our mission if we do adopt the IMOD approach together,” emphasised Dr Dave Hoisington, deputy director general, research, ICRISAT.

The Partnership Day was capped with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ICRISAT and ISRA to renew and revitalise 40 years of research collaboration on groundnut, pearl millet and sorghum.

Highlighting ICRISAT’s relationship with CORAF/WECARD, an MoU was also signed between the two organisations to formalise the partnership and set the scene for tackling new challenges together and creating more impacts.

A press briefing was also held after the Partnership Day programme to answer questions from the media related to ICRISAT’s global programmes and activities, and its partnerships in Senegal and in WCA. The Partnership Day was organised as a part of the week-long activities related to ICRISAT’s 68th Governing Board meeting being held in Dakar, Senegal between April 6 and 10, 2013.
 
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