Case Studies

CGIAR Research Programs boost output of dryland farming

Two global CGIAR research programs on legumes and dryland cereals are helping improve farmers’ productivity and consumption of 12 crops in sub-Saharan Africa, South and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean countries.
CGIAR Research Programs boost output of dryland farming

Two global CGIAR research programs on legumes and dryland cereals are helping improve farmers’ productivity and consumption of 12 crops in sub-Saharan Africa, South and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean countries.

The programmes along with national and international public and private partners have developed and released over 256 new legume varieties (chickpea, common bean, cowpea, faba bean, groundnut, lentil, pigeonpea and soybean) and 119 dryland cereal varieties (barley, finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum) for these regions, since their inception in 2012. The impacts of the research to date were discussed in a recent meeting involving more than 125 key stakeholders that included global partners, scientists, Steering and Advisory Committee members of CGIAR Research Programs on Grain Legumes, and on Dryland Cereals. The stakeholders came together at a three-day meeting in the first week of October 2016 at ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad, India to review the progress and outputs made during the first four years of the two programmes.

The two CGIAR Research Programs (CRP); Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, were launched in mid-2012 in response to the global challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and climate change. With a strong global partnership, they brought together knowledge, expertise and experience from stakeholders in the public and private sectors, governments and farmers worldwide. The two programmes completed their first phase in December 2014 and are currently in a two-year extension phase. Delivery of outcomes and impact from the programmes has been significant since their inception.

Dr Shoba Sivasankar, Director, CRP’s Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals highlighted the key achievements of the first four years of the ambitious 10-year research programmes, targeting grain legumes and dryland cereals.

In his message, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) stressed that both Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals that deal with the 12 nutritious and climate-smart commodities are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These crops are critically important for farmers to realise the full economic potential in a sustainable manner.

Dr Jill Findeis, Director, Division of Applied Social Sciences at University of Missouri, USA and Chair, Steering and Advisory Committee for Grain Legumes, commended the achievements and the impact created by Grain Legumes in a very short period.

While appreciating the key achievements made by Dryland Cereals against the enormous scope of the programme involving four crops in different systems with different constraints, Prof. Peter Langridge, University of Adelaide, Australia and Chair, Steering and Advisory Committee for Dryland Cereals, emphasised that the four dryland cereal crops are critical for the target countries, and that focus on their research would continue.

Dr Ylva Hillbur, Deputy Director General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) – one of the four participating centers of Grain Legumes, underlined the importance of strong partnerships and networks established under the programme. She said these partnerships and networks would provide a strong basis for future collaboration for more effective research in the areas of dryland cereals and grain legumes.

Dr Steve Beebe, Program Leader, Agrobiodiversity Research Area, Bean Program, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), recalled the conceptualisation of the game-changing product lines for Grain Legumes in the original proposal. He was proud that the team accepted and tackled the challenge of addressing abiotic stress that was the primary cause for stunting the legume yields in the target regions.

Dr Michael Baum, Director, Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Program, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), explained how ICARDA’s decentralisation plans aligned effectively with the two CRPs. He also highlighted some of the key achievements in Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals. The partnerships with private sector industry to learn and understand the malting barley industry helped the barley research in Dryland Cereals. Similarly, re-establishment of faba bean in Egypt and expansion of rice-lentil fallows in Bangladesh and India by developing early maturing lentil varieties are some examples of impacts for Grain Legumes.

Over the three days, the coordinators of the 15 game-changing product lines of Dryland Cereals and Grain Legumes presented the progress in their areas of research. A poster session with about 81 posters highlighted the scientific achievements of the programs.

The CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes is a partnership among four CGIAR Research Institutes: ICRISAT (lead center), CIAT, ICARDA, and IITA, along with several public and private institutes and organisations, governments and farmers worldwide. The programme focuses on improving the productivity and consumption of eight priority grain legume crops — chickpea, cowpea, common bean, faba bean, groundnut, lentil, pigeonpea and soybean that are primarily grown by smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Western Asia, North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organisations, academia, development organisations and the private sector.  

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