“Tropical Legumes (TL) III will build on the achievements and the lessons learned from TL I and II in ensuring increased legume productivity and nutrition for smallholder farmers,” said Dr Anthony J Cavalieri, Senior Program Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During the stakeholders’ consultation and planning workshop for the TL III project, the need to sustain the gains from TL I and II, which facilitated the release and availability of more than 129 new improved varieties of the six target crops in various countries across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, was highlighted.

TL I and II strengthened partnerships among different actors and stakeholders in the legumes value chain and linkages with markets; increased incomes and benefits from improved technologies; and improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers and other end users with help of improved crop management practices.

At the TL III planning workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya on 17-21 March, 143 participants from 15 countries including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, India and Bangladesh met to deliberate on the draft proposal developed by the Project Management Team.

The workshop aimed to set a common understanding of lessons from TL I and II; discuss practical implementation challenges and solutions for TL III; identify concrete implementation arrangements for effective delivery of project outputs and outcomes; and finalize the Phase III proposal for submission to the Gates Foundation by 31 July.

Speaking at the workshop, ICRISAT Deputy Director General for Research, Dr CLL Gowda reaffirmed the commitment of ICRISAT and partner centers, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in the partnership arrangements under the tropical legumes projects.

Welcoming the delegates, Dr Rajeev Varshney, Principal Investigator, TL II, and Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, thanked the Gates Foundation for its continuous support to the projects. “The TL II project has been highly successful in enhancing incomes of poor people in the target countries,” he said.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Program Officer, Gates Foundation, emphasized that TL III should be aligned with the foundation’s strategic goals. Specifically, the proposed project should underscore: modernized global breeding systems to produce farmer-preferred varieties that outyield 2013 varieties by 10%; national programs to achieve higher genetic gains for the development of more productive and nutritious varieties; new technologies designed considering the preferences of women smallholder farmers; and greater nutrient availability and improved nutritional status of target population.

Dr AJ Cavalieri noted that the Gates Foundation continues to be committed to improving productivity of smallholder farmers as evidenced by the level of support given in the past eight years for agricultural development, specifically targeting the smallholder farmers. Recognizing the success of TL I and II, he said that the foundation is pleased to support the TL III project, as legumes are key in improving nutrition and empowering poor farmers, particularly women.

Participants of the workshop agreed that in order to achieve its objectives, TL III should create and nurture partnerships with other key actors like extension services, gender specialists, nutritionists, higher institutions of learning, public and private companies, regulatory agencies, policy makers, farmer associations, seed and fertilizer companies, agro-dealers, traders, agro-processors, marketing agencies; and regional and sub-regional organizations or other related projects in order to build synergies, and to achieve fast wider adoption and dissemination.

During the workshop, Drs Ndeye Ndack-Diop and Emmanuel Monyo, TL I and TL II Project Coordinators, respectively, synthesized the seven seasons of learning, achievements and challenges of the projects for all the stakeholders to build upon.

Both TL I (led by GCP) and TL II (led by ICRISAT) are funded by the Gates Foundation. The TL II project is a joint initiative of three international agricultural research centers: ICRISAT (chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea), IITA (cowpea and soybean), and CIAT (common bean). It is being implemented under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings