ICRISAT-HOPE team draws proposal for project extension
With the ICRISAT-led HOPE project’s current no-cost extension phase coming to an end in December 2013, the project team met from 1-4 July in Naivasha, Kenya to discuss and formulate activities to be carried out in all the participating countries following this phase. The Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project was granted an 18-month extension (January 2014 – June 2015) of its current phase, with some additional funding, to carry out specific tasks.
The meeting, attended by project scientists from
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all three regions of ICRISAT and project coordinators from 9 of the 11 participating countries, was led by Project Coordinator Dr George Okwach; Research Program Director – Dryland Cereals, Dr Stefania Grando; and Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Said Silim.
Welcoming the participants, Dr Okwach explained that in granting the project this extension, the foundation expected the team to: (1) Complete all pending activities in phase I and tie up all loose ends that may still exist after the end of the no-cost extension period; (2) Identify and address any knowledge gap that may exist between what is now known, and the work that may be expected to be done in HOPE phase II; (3) Provide opportunity for an appropriate transition plan for countries that will not be part of HOPE phase II; (4) Develop a proposal for HOPE phase II; and (5) Formulate and put in place appropriate structures for HOPE phase II.
During the meeting, Dr Grando stressed the importance of the task ahead, and underlined the need to work as a team and to see the national partners taking the lead in formulating
the activities to be carried out in their respective countries.
The role and place of the national programs was also emphasized by Dr Silim, outgoing Principal Investigator, recognizing the national coordinators as equal partners of the project. He urged them to think of the needs of all project objectives carried out in their respective countries.
Planning the new activities, the team was split into three regional groups – West and Central Africa (led by Dr Tom Hash), Eastern and Southern Africa (led by Dr Chris Oduori, Project Coordinator for Kenya and Dr Henry Ojulong of ICRISAT-Nairobi), and South Asia (led by Drs Ashok Kumar and SK Gupta). Each group discussed and formulated plans across all relevant objectives carried out in the region. A team composed of Drs Dave Harris, Alastair Orr, Stefania Grando and George Okwach was constituted and mandated to finalize the project proposal and ensure submission to the Gates Foundation by 1 August.
The group also bid farewell to Dr Silim, and welcomed Dr Grando as the project’s new Principal Investigator. Accepting a farewell card signed by those present and representing the entire project team, which was presented by project coordinator for Tanzania, Dr Fridah Mgonja, Dr Silim thanked the team for working hard in phase I and making the project a success.