Tag Archives: bana grass

Considering our strategic role in southern African agriculture

Today I toured ICRISAT’s research plots, labs, gene bank, facilities and housing in our Bulawayo office in Zimbabwe.  The station is located next to the livestock research center on the accession of 28,000 acres that was once Cecil Rhodes property.

Tour of ICRISAT fields at Bulawayo with Sakile Kudita

Tour of ICRISAT fields at Bulawayo with Sakile Kudita

It is really good to see the rejuvenation of our work on crop improvement and gene bank accession evaluations. Sakile Kudita has been doing a fantastic job of regenerating and testing old varieties that were developed way back in 2003.  She is seeing what we want to work with going forward.  I could see a lot of opportunity to modernize this process.

ICRISAT first started work in the region in 1982 and the station was developed in 1985 with significant support of USAID.  The scientific team had a very large sorghum and pearl millet breeding program supported by USAID until 2003.  They also worked on the development on the bana grass (a cross between pearl millet and Napier grass as a fodder crop that was very successful. Read more

Systems thinking for southern Africa research program

With ICRISAT Zimbabwe staff during our planning meeting

With ICRISAT Zimbabwe staff during our planning meeting

I had a great day at Victoria Falls with ICRISAT scientists and staff today where we reviewed the country strategies and discussed how our Zimbabwe program can be adjusted to fit new priorities.

There were rich discussions with the scientists and staff on mapping their work to the value chain framework. Through that we identified the gaps in the framework with regards to systems research.

We have been doing a lot of work on innovation platforms to understand complex systems. Not just on commodities, but how those commodities might sit within a farming system, and the very integrated nature of agriculture in the drylands, especially in southern Africa.

By only focusing on crops we miss the bigger picture, which includes aspects like livestock.  Small ruminants like goats are an important resource that families sell for health and education, but also to invest back to agriculture. So now our team will be going back to see how they can accommodate systems research. Read more