Monthly Archives: April 2015

Doing his bit for Ethiopia – Marco Quinones

With Dr Marco Quinones in Ethiopia

With Dr Marco Quinones in Ethiopia

When I was in Ethiopia last week it was a pleasure to renew my friendship with Dr Marco Quinones who is currently advising the CEO of the Agriculture Transformation Agency (ATA).

Marco and I are both alumni of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and were privileged to work directly with the late Dr Norman Borlaug who instilled in us the passion of taking technology to farmers.

Marco has worked to serve farmers of Mexico and Africa through several positions including Sasakawa Global 2000, an initiative that produced and disseminated nutritious and stress-tolerant maize varieties in Africa. He has also been Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia. Read more

Sharing insights in the Director General’s Journal

In Malawi with women from Phalula village who are earning a good income from ground nut and pigeon pea

In Malawi with women from Phalula village who are earning a good income from ground nut and pigeon pea

In the Director General’s Journal I am sharing with you the insights of farmers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, development donors and more as I travel to the field and visit people who are changing the world. I would also really appreciate your views on the issues and opportunities being highlighted.

I made a commitment that in my first 100 days I would visit all seven countries in Africa where ICRISAT has an office. I’ve almost reached this milestone and I am keen to share with you the inspiration and learnings from the people on the ground. Read more

Seeds systems and farmer delivery focus of HOPE meeting

In discussion with two of our scientists working on the HOPE project – Tilahun Amede and Tom Hash.

In discussion with two of our scientists working on the HOPE project – Tilahun Amede and Tom Hash.

My final task in Nairobi this week was a working session with staff on the HOPE project, grappling with issues and developing a proposal for the sorghum and millet value chains.

This included talking about the science of delivery and adoption of new technologies by smallholder farmers. We discussed how HOPE fits within an overall country strategy and the important role of markets to translate surplus production into profitability. We also looked at ways to compress the time it takes an improved variety to reach a farmer.

I was enthused by the energy level of the conversations and the commitment of staff to ensure the project is well positioned to achieve impact at scale through a broad range of strategic partnerships along the commodity value chain.

Meeting ICRAF our valued host and partner

Touring the molecular laboratory at the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi.

Touring the molecular laboratory at the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi.

It was good to meet up with the leadership team at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) under the able leadership and boundless energy of Tony Simons. We are grateful for the hospitality and support the Centre offers ICRISAT. The wide range of development partners on the campus is also really valuable to foster partnerships.

We toured the molecular lab that is a reflection of the close collaboration between ICRISAT and ICRAF as we train young scientists to apply new tools to unlock the rich genetic diversity of African crops.

Following an introduction of the areas each director leads within ICRAF, we discussed areas of overlapping interest and opportunities for collaboration.  Tony put out the challenge to increase the number of projects we collaborate on given the importance of agroforestry in the dryland tropics of Africa and Asia. Read more

Scaling up opportunities in Kenya

Left to right: Andrew Read (USAID), myself, Harrigan Mukhongo (USAID), Moses Siambi (ICRISAT) and Stefania Grando (ICRISAT).

Left to right: Andrew Read (USAID), myself, Harrigan Mukhongo (USAID), Moses Siambi (ICRISAT) and Stefania Grando (ICRISAT).

Opportunities for scale up of agricultural innovations in Kenya was the main discussion point when I met with Andrew Read, USAID Agriculture Team Leader and coordinator of Feed the Future program in Kenya today.  Andrew is extremely excited about the prospects to help people living in the semi-arid tropics, particularly those who are surviving on less that $1.25 per day.

We updated Andrew on our process of developing country strategies and he was interested to explore further how the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID, private sector partners and CGIAR centers like ICRISAT can come together to accelerate the adoption of improved crop and livestock practices.

We shared with him the outcomes of our discussion with the Principal Secretary for Agriculture. We are all optimistic about the future of farming in Kenya.