Updated: September 9, 2021 12:36:32 pm
Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been awarded the Africa Food Prize 2021 for improving food security in sub-Saharan Africa, a statement from the institute said.
The award was given away at the Africa Forum for Green Revolution (AGRF) 2021 Summit that is underway in Nairobi, Kenya. ICRISAT got the award for the Tropical Legumes Project that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, ICRISAT director general, accepted the award virtually. The US $1,00,000 prize puts a spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.
Between 2007 and 2019, ICRISAT, which has its headquarters at Patancheru on the outskirts of Hyderabad, led a collaboration of partners to deliver the Tropical Legumes Project.
As a part of the Tropical Legumes Project, in India, the national programme on developing improved varieties of chickpea resulted in area enhancement up to 68 per cent.
The project, undertaken with national and international institutions, developed 266 improved legume varieties and almost half a million tons of seed for a range of legume crops, including cowpeas, pigeon peas, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, and soybean.
These new varieties have helped over 25 million smallholder farmers in both Africa and Asia become more resilient to climate change, as well as pest and disease outbreaks. In addition to these new varieties, the project trained 52 scientists, who are already working in national research institutes across the African continent.
Training these next-generation scientists in the countries where the projects were implemented has helped strengthen the research capacity of national agricultural research systems in Africa and contributed to sustaining the gains the projects have made, ICRISAT said.
According to ICRISAT, dryland ecosystems cover 45 per cent of Africa’s landmass, and feed and support almost half a billion people. However, these systems are fragile and prone to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
Programs like the Tropical Legumes Project help the millions of smallholder farmers relying on dryland ecosystems to grow more food and become more resilient in the face of climate change. The project has been implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The key impacts of the Tropical Legume Project are groundnut crop interventions that demonstrated a 32.35 per cent increase in income, 6.72 per cent of households lifted out of poverty and 14 per cent out of food insecurity.
Ten groundnut varieties, including six high-yielding, drought-tolerant ones and four ELS (Early Leaf Spot) resistant, were released in Mali. Seven groundnut varieties, with traits such as aflatoxin tolerance, early maturing, drought tolerance etc were released. The chickpea program in Ethiopia won a national award in 2013 for science and innovation. It has also seen a seven-fold increase in the number of improved common bean variety releases from 2011 to 2018.
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