Monthly Archives: March 2015

Niger’s women farmers take a bow

Meeting with Prime Minister of Niger His Excellency Brigi Rafini

With Prime Minister of Niger His Excellency Brigi Rafini

This was another really insightful day meeting with Niger’s Prime Minister HE Brigi Rafini. He had genuine support for women and noted, “I am pleased to be seeing Niger’s women taking an increasing role in transforming agriculture in our country.”

I spoke with him about ICRISAT’s exciting advancements in pearl millet research – such as the drought tolerant varieties and those that are producing 30% more iron and zinc that will particularly benefit women and their families.

Woman at the agricultural show

Selling products at the agricultural show

We also have a partnership with a women’s seed producers’ association which is producing about 60% of total groundnut seed production in the Dosso Region!

The important role women are playing was obvious when I visited the country’s national agricultural show, the Salon de l ‘agriculture, de l’hydraulique, de l’environnement et de l’élevage (SAHEL-Niger 2015). Read more

Empowering women and children through agriculture

A woman grafting mango

A woman grafting mango during my visit

On my visit to meet a group of women farmers in the village of Sadoré, not far from the ICRISAT campus in Niger, I could see they had a sense of pride in this isolated community.

The women are being empowered though the agricultural practices including selling grafted mango trees.  Some young women gave me a crash course on how to graft a mango tree.

The women told me that the grafted mango trees are returning enough money to help them build new homes, have an electricity supply and pay for school fees.

A school girl explains the process of grafting mango trees.

A school girl explains the process of grafting mango trees.

They also insisted I went to the local elementary school. They had joy and promise in their faces even in such a difficult environment. I learnt that even the school is earning money from the grafted trees.

The community were introduced to grafting, how to tend the plants in the nursery and to sell them by ICRISAT technicians and a former ICRISAT scientist.

It was fantastic to see the benefits that the initiative has brought to the community.

USAID’s commitment to Mali

Meeting with the USAID team

Dr Ramadjita Tabo and myself meeting with the USAID team, Gary Juste and David Yanggen

I had the opportunity to meet USAID Mali Mission Director Gary Juste and David Yanggen, Leader Economic Division today.

They were very optimistic about their work in Mali.  We discussed USAID-funded ICRISAT projects in Mali – which roughly translates to US$7million per year. Read more

New opportunities in Mali

With the Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita

With the Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita and ICRISAT’s Director for West & Central Africa, Dr Ramadjita Tabo

I was very privileged to meet with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubcar Kéita and the Minister for Rural Development Bocary Téréta today.

I was really impressed to hear that the government considers agriculture as its top priority and is allocating a significant 15% of the national budget towards agriculture.

Mali is going to be a very important country to contribute to and may potentially be seen as a huge success story in the future for Africa.  The President specifically mentioned that he wants to create an enabling environment for agro-businesses.

Standing by Mali’s smallholders

Today I visited the ICRISAT’s Samanko Station in Mali, touring the field, lab and office facilities.

I congratulate the ICRISAT staff for being proactive and thank them for their enthusiasm and staying loyal to ICRISAT and the small holder farmers of Mali during the past three years. They have endured challenging conditions – the civil conflict, Ebola and the rising costs of living.

ICRISAT Mali staff

ICRISAT Mali staff on my visit, March 2015

By standing alongside the people of Mali during these difficult times, ICRISAT has solidified its good relations with the government of Mali and our national partners.

I told the ICRISAT team and our partners that the management team and Board have a strong commitment to increase our investment and presence in sub-Saharan Africa.