Tropical Legumes III – Developing the next phase to ensure benefits to smallholder farmers

Participants of the Tropical Legumes III meeting at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru.
Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

“Grain legumes make an important component of the diet and a rich source of protein for poor people in the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. ICRISAT and its partners need to continue to work together not just to enhance the crop productivity of legume crops but also to ensure to take improved varieties to farmers’ fields so that we should be able to touch the lives of several millions of poor farmers,” said Director General William D. Dar in his inaugural address at the Planning Meeting for Tropical Legumes III.

The Planning Meeting for Tropical Legumes III aimed to develop the next phase of the tropical legumes project. Held on 2-4 December at the ICRISAT headquarters, it was attended by about 12 partners from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), 33 scientists from ICRISAT headquarters and Africa locations, and key representatives from the CGIAR Generation Challenge Program (GCP). Tropical Legumes I was coordinated by the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme, while Tropical Legumes II was coordinated and managed by ICRISAT.

“As these projects (Tropical Legumes I and II) are nearing completion this year, we need to plan the next phase to be called Tropical Legumes III,” Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes and Principal Investigator of the Tropical Legumes II project, said.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “The Tropical Legumes projects are considered as flagship projects at the Gates Foundation. We would like to see that genomics, breeding, and delivery of products including Integrated Crop Management (ICM) as well the socio-economics impact are integrated into Tropical Legumes III. Gender should be inclusive in this phase.”

At the meeting, Dr Dar emphasized that Tropical Legumes III should exploit genomic resources and tools developed in phases I and II. This is to guarantee leaving behind functional and efficient national breeding programs capable of exploiting genetic gains while up-scaling successful innovations to achieve the goal of increasing production and productivity of legumes in the target countries. These should ideally have components for research, up-scaling and intensification in an Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) framework.

Dr CLL Gowda, ICRISAT Deputy Director General for Research and former Principal Investigator of Tropical Legumes II, outlined the objectives and expectations of the workshop. He said, “Partnership is very important for making an impact. The Tropical Legumes community needs to continue to nurture partnership in all different areas and this workshop should help the community to develop the outline of the proposal.”

During the workshop, the Tropical Legumes community has developed an outline and agreed to develop the first version of the proposal, to be coordinated by Dr Varshney and Dr Emmanuel Monyo, Project Coordinator, Tropical Legumes II, in collaboration with key partners from different collaborating centers.

Subsequently, the community will have a Stakeholders’ Consultation Meeting scheduled to be held in Nairobi, Kenya sometime end of February or early March 2014, for further development of the proposal. The final proposal will be submitted by 30 July 2014.

The three-day workshop was facilitated by the PicoTeam from South Africa and Dr Monyo, and Mr P Ramakrishna, Senior Administrative Officer, ICRISAT. The activity was undertaken under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings