Yilma Kebede reviews HOPE project activities in Mali
It is important to pro-actively anticipate future needs, and begin to address them. But in doing so, we must not forget what is the most urgent and immediate need of the farmer, Dr Yilma Kebede, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said as he interacted with ICRISAT scientists in Mali.
Dr Kebede reviewed the activities carried out by scientists from ICRISAT and the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali, under the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of sorghum and millets project.
Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Director-West and Central Africa, ICRISAT, briefed Dr Kebede on the progress of the project and urged for greater collaboration between ICRISAT and the Foundation to address the needs of the poor subsistence farmers of sub-Saharan Africa. In her statement, Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director-Dryland Cereals, ICRISAT, gave an update on the efforts being made by ICRISAT to strengthen its capacity in Africa with respect to dryland cereals research.
Dr Kebede also met Dr. Moussa Traoré, the Interim Director General of IER. IER is the lead national research institution in Mali, which is also one of the key partners in HOPE project. He toured the research fields and demonstration plots at ICRISAT’s Samanko station, and IER’s Sotuba, Kolombada, Cinzana stations.
At IER’s Cinzana Station, Dr George Okwach, HOPE Project Coordinator, presented a summary of points and questions raised by Dr Kebede during his field visits. Dr Grando then invited IER scientists to express their views on how to better manage or improve the effectiveness of the ICRISAT-IER collaboration.
IER scientists raised issues relating to increased transparency in relation to budgetary allocation to the national programs, need for greater respect for national scientists by ICRISAT scientists, and speedy disbursement of agreed funds by ICRISAT.
In his remarks, the Cinzana Station Director, Dr Mamadou Touré, made a plea for greater support for the station, especially in relation to irrigation capacity for off-season seed production, as well as seed storage facilities. Dr Tom Hash, Principal Scientist – Breeding (Dryland Cereals) at ICRISATSadore station in Niamey, stressed on the need to plan for enhanced facilities at Cinzana, to support the good work that IER scientists at the station were doing in collaboration with ICRISAT.