Photo credit: DiasporaEngager (www.DiasporaEngager.com).

ICRISAT’s Deputy Director General-Research, Dr Arvind Kumar, visited Mali and met with the Minister of Rural Development, government officials, donors and partners.

Dr Kumar met Mr Modibo Keita, Minister of Rural Development, Mali, and thanked him for the enduring and productive partnership that was seeing advances being made to regional food security. The Minister in turn assured ICRISAT of his engagement and support. Discussions revolved around ICRISAT’s contributions to national research systems, the importance of diversification in the context of climate change and the need for enhancing food systems and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

The Minister’s delegation comprised Dr Modibo Sylla, Director of the Institute of Rural Economy; Mr Oumar Tamboura, National Director of Agriculture; Mr Amadou Cheick Traore, Counselor to the Minister; and Mr Daniel Kelema, General Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development.

Talks with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID): Dr Kumar met virtually with Mr Camilien Saint-Cyr, Director, Economic Growth and Agricultural Development, Agriculture Office, USAID, and his team members.

In talking about the strategy of USAID’s  Economic Growth and Agricultural Development, Mr Saint-Cyr said that in the next five years they will be focusing on building resilience for both natural and human-made shocks, targeting the most vulnerable, especially youth and women living in extremely marginalized zones to give them opportunities to diversify their livelihoods.

“USAID has been a supporter of ICRISAT’s work in improving nutrition, adaption and mitigation of climate change and Smart Food systems value-chain development. It includes sorghum and millet that are highly resilient. Our investment starts with water conservation and moves on to crop improvement, strengthening seed systems by linking the private sector and the local seed system to markets, the industry and the whole value chain,” said Dr Kumar.

From left to right: ICRISAT staff Ms Agathe Diama, Dr Ramadjita Tabo and Dr Arvind Kumar; and EU delegation comprising Mr Salvador França, Ms Ioana Albulescu and Dr Aboubacar Toure, Senior sorghum breeder and coordinator of the EU-APSAN-Mali project.

Meeting the European Union (EU) delegation: ICRISAT’s DDG-R also met Mr Salvador França, Chargé d’affaires of the EU delegation and Ms Ioana Albulescu, Team Leader-Inclusive Green Growth of the EU in Mali. He thanked the Union for funding the ongoing UE-APSAN-Mali project ‘Enhancing Crop Productivity and Climate Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in Mali’ and discussed future opportunities for building and strengthening the resilience of the agricultural sector in the region.

“The crops we are working on are one of the most resilient in the drylands. These crops are not only suitable for food and feed but also for industry,” said Dr Kumar.

Overall discussions focused on the need for greater involvement of the private sector and policies towards strengthening the seed sector and associate areas in the food systems production and supply chain.

Dr Kumar was in Mali from July 25-28 and was accompanied by Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director, ICRISAT-West and Central Africa and Ms Agathe Diama Head Communications and Smart Food Coordinator. He met the staff in Mali and toured the ICRISAT research facilities at Samanko on 27 July. Dr Kumar will be next visiting Niger and Nigeria.

Source of original article: ICRISAT (www.icrisat.org).
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