The project focus areas

The ICRISAT-HOPE project works in West and Central Africa (WCA), in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and four Indian states in South Asia (SA).

In these region, the project’s activities are built around five focus areas:

We improve crops

A major objective of the project is to improve varieties and field management strategies for our key crops, sorghum and millets. We work towards varieties with a higher yield, which are more resistant to diseases, pests and drought, achieving a higher grain and nutritional quality.

The work of developing new and improved crop varieties is carried out collaboratively with national research institutions and other partners:

For sorghum:

  • WCA: Mali and Burkina Faso
  • ESA: Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Tanzania
  • SA: Post-rainy season sorghum in Maharashtra state in India.

For pearl millet:

  • WCA: Niger, Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso
  • SA: Rajasthan, Haryana, and Gujarat states in India

For finger millet:

  • ESA: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Specific activities carried out under this agenda are:

For sorghum:

  1. Identification of new sources of resistance/tolerance to and control options for key biotic constraints (in all three regions – WCA, ESA, and SA)
  2. Identification of options for sorghum intensification in target ecologies (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  3. Identification of new and characterization of already available hybrid parents for target ecologies (in ESA and SA only)
  4. Development of hybrids with improved yielding ability and adaptation traits for specific target regions (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  5. Development of open-pollinated varieties with improved yielding ability, and resistance to predominant biotic and abiotic stresses in target ecologies (in WCA, ESA and SA)
  6. Development of crop management options for key production constraints in target sorghum production ecologies (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  7. Farmer participatory multi-environment testing of newly developed sorghum varieties with crop management options in target ecologies (in WCA, ESA, and SA).

For pearl millet:

  1. Identification of new sources of resistance to key biotic constraints, validation of these resistance sources, determination of resistance inheritance and where necessary identification of markers as a selection aid (in WCA and SA)
  2. Identification of integrated control options for pearl millet insect pests (in WCA alone)
  3. Identification of options for pearl millet intensification in target ecologies for effective implementation of IGNRM (in WCA and SA)
  4. Identification and/or development of pearl millet breeding lines and hybrid parents for target ecologies (in SA alone)
  5. Development of pearl millet hybrids with improved yielding ability and necessary adaptation and market-required traits for specific target regions (in SA alone)
  6. Creation of diversified populations, performance of recurrent population improvement for priority traits, and generation of new pearl millet open pollinated varieties adapted to specific target environments (in WCA alone)
  7. Evaluation of the potential of newly developed pearl millet varieties and hybrids, and crop management practices using large-scale gender-specific, farmer-participatory, multi-location testing approaches (in WCA and SA)

For finger millet: (all activities in ESA alone):

  1. Enhancement of finger millet genetic resources base and then using it to identify new sources of resistance to key biotic stresses
  2. Identification of sources of resistance to key abiotic stresses, adaptation and quality traits
  3. Development of breeding and mapping populations for improving finger millet resistance to blast, drought and adaptation to different agro-ecologies
  4. Identification and development of varieties with improved yielding ability, resistance to key biotic and abiotic stresses for the targeted agro-ecologies and end uses
  5. Determination of adaptability and yield stability of improved varieties for the targeted agro-ecologies and end uses
  6. Development and assessment of crop management options for key constraints in the targeted finger millet production ecologies to enhance productivity
  7. Participatory validation of integrated improved varieties with crop and fertility management options.

Read more about our efforts to improve crops.

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We enable adoption

ICRISAT-HOPE staff and partner organizations work continuously in the field ensuring our improved crops are adopted fast by the farmers. We ensure the seeds, adapted fertilizers, and improved cultivation techniques are available to our target communities.

Concrete and deliberate activities are undertaken by the HOPE project to accelerate the delivery of improved, ready-to-go technologies, and to catalyze the process of adoption. These activities include:

  1. Targeting innovations for up-scaling and for reaching resource poor farmers (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  2. Analysis of investment opportunities for research and development in crop improvement, crop management and market access (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  3. Increase farmers’ access and use of knowhow about the use and benefits of profitable crop management technologies and improved cultivars (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  4. Increase availability and use of quality seeds of improved varieties (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  5. Increase availability and use of fertilizer and other crop management inputs (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  6. Improve access to output markets to increase technology adoption and cash incomes for farmers (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  7. Improve access to finance to increase adoption of purchased inputs and increase demand for sorghum and millets cereal based products (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  8. Monitoring and evaluation of adoption and impact (in WCA, ESA, and SA).

Read more how we enable the adoption of sorghum and millet crops.

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We develop markets

We recognize that few farmers will cultivate a crop which they can’t sell. As the project uses a value-chain approach, we recognize it is vital to identify and develop markets for our key crops. We also assist the farmers in optimizing the link between key entities in the value-chain: transporters, processors, agro-enterprises,….

Once identified, developed and relevant linkages formed between players, it is expected that these market channels will act as essential “pulls” for technology driven dryland cereal production through an integrated value-chain approach.

Specific activities carried out by the project include:

  1. Mapping marketing channels and measuring transaction costs for selected value chains (food, feed, and fodder) including competing crops like maize (in all three regions, WCA, ESA, and SA)
  2. Establishing existing seasonal demand, quality characteristics, prices and relative competitiveness of sorghum and millets in alternative uses (food, feed, and fodder (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  3. Identifying consumer preferences, perceptions and price and non-price factors that determine the demand for sorghum and millet in human diets (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  4. Evaluation and identification of effective grain and fodder marketing strategies for reducing transaction costs and developing strategies for introducing grades and standards (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  5. Developing appropriate models for farmer-market linkages using alternative formal and informal arrangements with buyers to improve market access (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  6. Determining opportunities for small-to-medium scale agro-enterprise development, local processing and value addition to stimulate market and expand consumer demand (in WCA, ESA, and SA)

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We build capacity

To achieve a self-sustained impact of our activities, the project strengthens the human and institutional capacity of the institutions and partners we work with. We invest heavily in training crop scientists, market researchers, and field workers alike.

The approaches include joint research activities in each project objective, human capacity strengthening through training (formal and informal) and mentoring, and infrastructural improvement through the provision of capital items to NARS institutions as needed for the implementation of planned joint activities.

Specific activities carried out include:

  1. Human resource development and policy dialogue to enhance targeting, adoption and impact of sorghum and millet technologies (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  2. Enhancing research and leadership skills of sorghum scientists (in WCA, ESA, and SA)
  3. Strengthen national programs capacities for screening for [pearl millet] resistance to key biotic constraints (in WCA and SA)
  4. Strengthen research-for-development capacity [for pearl millet] (In WCA and SA)
  5. Capacity building, knowledge and information for pursuance of finger millet crop improvement and management (in ESA)
  6. Strengthen local capacity for value chain and policy analysis and market projection (in WCA, ESA and SA)
  7. Enhance capacity of partners to deliver appropriate cereal technology options to farmers and increase alternative use of sorghum and millets cereals.

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…So that we can impact lives

ICRISAT-HOPE’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for the rural poor in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Within ten years the project will benefit 2.1 million households.

Improvements in the quality of life will be evidenced by:

  • Increased productivity of sorghum and millets
  • Increased food and nutrition sufficiency/security for women, children and the family,
  • Improved health of women, children and families.
  • Increased income for farm households
  • Reduced drudgery for women in home and fields

Read more how we impact lives.

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Read more about the ICRISAT-HOPE project.