The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), headquartered in Hyderabad, India has won the 2021 Africa Food Prize for the Tropical Legumes projects work that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.ICRISAT is a non-profit, non-political public international research organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world.
ICRISAT has been working towards improving the lives of smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa since five decade through several flagship projects, including Tropical Legumes, which led to this award, together with its earlier significant contributions. Tropical Legumes were collaborative projects, led by ICRISAT and jointly implemented during 2007-2019,with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and executed by national partners in 13 countries of sub-Saharan Africa and India and Bangladesh in Asia.
The significant impact the projects have made over the years include development of 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 become more resilient to climate change, as well as pest and disease outbreaks.In addition to these new varieties, the project trained 52 next generation scientists, who are already working in national research institutes across the continent.
Accepting the award, Dr. Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, ICRISAT Director General, said, “The Africa Food Prize is a major accolade and recognition of ICRISAT’s work in Africa and reinforces our belief that agriculture can be profitable for smallholder farmers. It is also testament to the work of our close collaborators, the national agriculture research and extension systems, without whose support this would not have been possible”.“We dedicate this award to the smallholder farmers in the drylands of Africa, as they are the ones who inspire us with their patience and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Dr. Hughes.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research, ICRISAT said- “It is heartening to see our research creating positive impact in dryland regions and in the lives of smallholder farmers, together with partners and ICRISAT winning Africa Food Prize is validation to that”. “This recognition, also affirms ICRISAT’s commitment and reach on ground for delivering benefit of R&D to the last mile”- he added.
Expressing his gratitude, Prof. Rajeev K Varshney, Research Program Director- Accelerated Crop Improvement said- “It has been a privilege and honour for me to lead the award winning projects as Principal Investigator for 7 years (2007- 2020) and work with colleagues from CG centers and national partners in 15 countries.” “Flagship projects like this are real game changer for improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in dryland regions of the world.- added Prof. Varshney.
These projects, worked across the agricultural value chain, starting from integration of genomics and molecular breeding tools to develop and deliver improved crop varieties in record time, to strengthen seed system for ensuring timely delivery of these varieties in the hands of smallholder farmers, to empowering national partners with sustainable capacities to run crop improvement programs, even after lifetime of the projects.
About the Africa Food Prize
The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award recognizing an outstanding individual or institution that is leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa—from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives. The US $100,000 prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It 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.Building on the values and principles established by the Yara Prize, the Africa Food Prize puts a bright spotlight on achievements and innovations with transformative power that can be scaled and replicated across the continent to eliminate hunger and poverty and provide a vital new source of employment and income.
About the ICRISAT
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international organization which conducts agricultural research for rural development, headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Telangana, India) with several regional centers (Bamako (Mali), Nairobi (Kenya) and research stations (Niamey (Niger), Kano (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organisations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller foundations. Its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.
More details about the TL projects is available at TL Hub:https://tropicallegumeshub.com/