GLDC Research Communications

GLDC Research is communicated through collaborative work by the participating centres, highlighting our constant emphasis on partnerships and collaboration. Watch this space as we share some unique ideas that highlight the broad thematic areas and solutions.

CRP-GLDC Newsletter 2021 Quarter 4

This newsletter presents the fourth quarter and final issue of the CRP-GLDC Newsletter aligned to the closure of the CRP on 31 December 2021. This issue presents the outcome and impact of CRP-GLDC research for development co-implemented with our partners. We thank all our partner institutions and appreciate their support in fulfilling the aspirations of CRP-GLDC in delivering crop technologies, productivity, and economic gains from market linkages and value chain development to transform underperforming agri-food systems in the target ecologies of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa into well-functioning systems.

Innovation Profile: Medium duration and pest-tolerant pigeonpea cultivar MPPV 4

Climate change is affecting smallholder farming in Zambia due to frequent droughts and regular maize crop failures. Pigeonpea has gained popularity in semi-arid areas of Eastern and Central Zambia, as a source of food and nutritional security. The pigeonpea cultivar MPPV 4 is suitable for both green and dry grain with 100 seed mass of 17-19 grams. Growing MPPV 4 as a climate resilient variety in cereal-based cropping systems to mitigate effects of drought and improve soil health through biological Nitrogen fixation is an attractive option.

Innovation Profile: Sorghum Cultivar: ICSV 1361063 (Samboni)

Samboni or ICSV 1361063 is an improved short guinea type Sorghum variety with 115 days of maturity released in the ECOWAS seed catalogue in 2018 by ICRISAT under the lead of the Institut d’Economie Rural (IER) in Mali. After field demonstrations through NGOs and farmers’ organizations in 2019, the demand for Samboni started to increase where in 2020, six hectares were planted by seed cooperatives for certified seed production and an average of 12 tons of seed are expected for commercialization in 2021.”

Innovation Profile: Snapping trait for reducing labor burden on women and children

Finger millet, a crop native to eastern Africa is a staple food grain to a large population in this region and many rural livelihoods depend on this crop for their income. However, the cultivation of the crop is declining in the region, mainly due to its high labor requirements especially in planting, weeding and harvesting operations which are usually done by hand and by women and children. During germplasm missions in western Kenya and eastern Uganda, finger millet cultivars whose stalks “snap” upon sudden bending were discovered, however they were poor agronomically and farmers were not adapting them. ICRISAT-ESA decided to improve them and reintroduced them to the farmers.

Innovation Profile: Improvement of pearl millet hybrid parents under public-private sector partnership

The role of the private sector seed companies as a valuable research partner for research on hybrid cultivar development and seed production was recognized by ICRISAT. The idea of a consortia to primarily to engage the private sector in more active partnership to hasten the pace and scale of impact, and to generate research funds to provide partial support to pearl millet improvement research at ICRISAT was born. This led to the conceptualization and formation of Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (PMHPRC), under which, companies pay fees for access to parent materials to develop better hybrids.

Innovation profile: RapidGen Platform

RapidGen Platform is the byname for the Rapid Generation Advancement, which is a facility that aims to modernize crop breeding by accelerating plant lifecycle in light, temperature, and humidity-controlled conditions. This research facility consists of main 3 elements: testbed optimization chambers, lighting controlled greenhouse bays, and a temperature-regulated light deprivation polyhouse. This innovation is devised to help crop breeders by significantly lowering the time and cost of crop varietal development by shortening the crop generational window, speeding up the growth and life cycle of crops when compared against the traditional methods of developing varieties in fields for over a decade.”

Innovation Profile: Rainwater Harvesting to Drought-proof Bundelkhand, India

Harsh climatic conditions have made the land infertile for growing crops with reasons like frequent drought, dry spells, and flooding. ICRISAT has developed an innovative landscape management approach of rainwater harvesting through a large-scale field bunding along with construction of masonry structures in decentralized manner. About 3.0 million cubic meter (MCM) storage capacity that was created has been crucial in helping farmers double their incomes and for long term sustainability. The innovation addresses water scarcity, land degradation in the fragile dryland ecosystem of Central India.

Innovation Profile: Bean business innovation platforms

“Bean Business Platforms are vehicles designed to implement program interventions by bringing together diverse and critical actors to improve business ecosystems and incentivize actors in bean corridors. This approach is operationalized through innovation platforms that aim to eliminate bottlenecks in the bean value chain. The innovation addresses the lack of access to good quality seeds, which is the beginning of successful crop production initiatives globally. Since being launched in 2010, the platforms accompanied by corridor approach method have realised market-driven transformation of rural agriculture at all stages from research and production and distribution of grain to value addition. This platform is driven by lead grain off-takers that provide actors with inclusive spaces for interaction, learning, negotiation, and transactions in a coordinated environment; being mindful of the voices of women and youths.”

Innovation Profile: Youth as Agricultural Service Providers

Every year, Tanzanian smallholder farmers invest around 1.35 billion hours and USD 28/ton to manually thresh their crops. What would it mean to those farmers if they can save 1.2 billion hours from this farming activity, while spending only USD 15/ton? In 2019, the Alliance for Bioversity International & International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI); both members of the Pan- Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA-Africa),collaborated with the Soybean Innovation Lab, Missouri State University to train 23 local artisans on manufacturing Multi-Crop Threshers (MCT) in Tanzania. Mechanizations of small farms has not only improved the livelihoods smallholder farmers, but also created thousands of jobs for rural youth who can deliver such mechanized services. PABRA has catalyzed youth-led enterprises in manufacturing and marketing MCTs and threshing services.

Innovation profile: Cowpea variety IT89KD-288

Cowpea varieties have been a key driver to agricultural income growth since the 1990`s. It helps augment crop nitrogen needs, and improve food, income, and nutrition security. IT89KD-288 is a dry-season dual-purpose cowpea variety for mixed crop-livestock systems in Nigeria. Adoption of this high-yielding, drought-tolerant, nematode- and insect pest-resistant cultivar has helped reduce poverty by 5% in Nigeria in 2016, which is equivalent to about 929,450 people lifted out of poverty. Accompanying innovations such as innovation platforms, seed systems, extension services and training have helped adoption by other beneficiaries while also helping linkages between stakeholder networks.

Innovation profile: First high-oleic groundnut cultivars commercialized in India

High-oleic groundnut is preferred by the food industry for enhanced shelf-life and consumer health benefits. Enabling technologies and extensive testing resulted in the development and launch of two high-oleic groundnut cultivars in India in 8-years of time as against the normal 12-15 years, consequently increasing nutrient levels more rapidly. Fast-tracking the delivery of these innovations in farmers` fields will build on strong partnerships with farmer groups and the private sector to produce quality seed and execute harvest procurement agreements with processors.

Innovation Profile: Micronutrient rich sorghum cultivar: ICSR 14001 (Parbhani Shakti)

Sorghum is an important food crop for over 500,000 people in Semi-Arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, that harbor the largest number of malnourished people globally. The cultivar “Parbhani Shakti” was a selection from grain sorghum Caudatum landrace accession (IS 26962) originating from India. The landrace (IS 26962) has thick panicles, cream-colored small sized grains (100 seed weight less than 3 g) with slight glume coverage on the grains. This selected line has higher yield, nutrients content and exhibited agronomic desirability and better grain mold resistance, besides having high protein content of 12% and a low phytate content (4.14%).

Innovation Profile: Sorghum Variety 12KNICSV-188 (Improved Deko)

Sorghum plays an important role in the diets and economy of the developing countries in the African continent. This biofortified sorghum variety 12KNICSV-188 (Improved Deko) has iron content of 129 ppm that is three times higher than the currently grown sorghum varieties. The variety records average yields of 2.4-2.8 t/ha, compared to less than 1 t/ha from the local varieties, and is drought-tolerant especially during terminal drought prevalent in the Nigerian (Sudan and Sahel) ecologies as they are early maturing with 50% flowering in 67 days against an average of 90 days in other varieties.

Innovation profile: Women Empowerment through Bean Flours

Bean Business Platforms are designed to implement program interventions by bringing together critical actors to improve business ecosystems and incentivize actors in bean corridors. PABRA and CIAT collaborated with the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU) in 2015 and engaged a startup entrepreneur Christella Ndayishimye to scale up production of composite bean flour for weaning infants and lactating mothers. Launched in 2009, Totahara was Christella’s answer to the sheer need for good quality, nutritious porridge flour for her baby’s weaning. Equipped with her own recipe of bean-based composite flour after a PABRA facilitated training and with nine employees, Christella started Totahara as a small enterprise from her backyard producing up to 1 ton of flour per month.

Innovation profile: Community Seed Banks

Agricultural productivity and production are constrained by limited access to productivity enhancing agri-innovations such improved variety seed varieties by the smallholder farmers. The development and strengthening of farmer’-managed institutions/platforms can be effective and efficient technology dissemination mechanisms. ICRISAT developed this approach of informal systems into an innovation, the Community Seed Banks (CSBs). CSBs are a seed delivery model that enhance the access to improved varieties of seeds along with the traditional retail- banking principles of accessing a loan and repaying it with interest.

Innovation Profile: Chakti- Iron bio-fortified Pearl Millet

With support from Harvest Plus and CRP-GLDC, scientists at ICRISAT used conventional plant breeding to develop Africa’s first iron biofortified, extra early maturing, drought tolerant pearl millet variety “Chakti”. Its tolerance to drought, heat, and soil salinity, and its high water-use efficiency make pearl millet a climate-smart crop. In addition, it has high protein, mineral content, and dietary fiber. This bio-fortified variety of pearl millet combining high iron content with high yield was developed through intra population improvement approaches with special emphasis to enhance the densities of grain iron (60 ppm) and zinc (45 ppm).

High-yielding biofortified crops address hidden hunger and food insecurity in the drylands of Asia and Africa

Five grain legume and dryland cereal crops have achieved substantial progress and impact around biofortification to improve their nutritive value and contribute to nutrition security in addition to food security. Common bean, lentil, pearl millet, and sorghum biofortification mainly address malnutrition among several beneficiary groups in east and southern Africa, and South Asia, while groundnut biofortification (high-oleic content) has clear market pull anticipated by the health and food processing industry in India. This infographic presents the results and impact of biofortification research for development the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals has co-enabled with partners.

Revision in the Theory of Change

Unlike in its original version, CRP-GLDC will now contribute to the SRF through one distinct impact pathway (integrative solutions) focusing on genetic resources enhancement through breeding for pre-determined priority traits informed by both the production and consumption domains; seed system and value chain innovations and development and agronomic management. The purpose of the revision of the ToC was to integrate the FP6 and the new cross-cutting theme on Markets and Partnerships in Agri-Business (MPAB), assess what has been achieved so far or is projected to be achieved in the remaining time frame of the CRP-GLDC, and re-align the ToC and impact pathways to be more realistic and reflective of the current logic and operational mechanism of the program.

Youth Strategy: Targeting and Engaging with Youth in Agriculture in the Semi-Arid Tropics

The CRP-GLDC Youth Strategy is based on studies conducted in 2019 and 2020 by teams of researchers in the drylands of Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania using common focus group discussions, key informant interviews and life history interview guides. Findings presented in this paper call for further research on youth, understanding local definitions of “youth” so that young people are not excluded from programs. Other strategies include access to financial, market, and technical leverage across the entire value chain, access to profitable technologies, and gender equity and greater access to education.

Process of demand-driven gender-responsive target product profile development in WCA

The contribution of women and youth to agricultural innovation and its benefits to them therefore depends on their understanding of crop traits. Agricultural innovations such as new crop varieties have a great potential to contribute to agricultural development in West and Central Africa (WCA). We need to evolve contexts that strengthen opportunities for gender-responsive, participatory technology development and deployment. Improving gender equality in agriculture requires women as well as men to have equal decision-making powers about agricultural innovation, especially technology choice.

Better beans for Africa

Insufficient iron in diets is a leading cause of anemia, a condition that particularly affects pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children under the age of five. Through collaborative plant breeding efforts with farmers and other partners, CGIAR scientists have developed and scaled up dozens of varieties of iron-biofortified beans in an effort to address the problem.

High-iron pearl millet for better health

Pearl millet is a nutritious and affordable staple crop in parts of India, relied on by many resource-poor farming families and rural communities. Yet overall dietary health remains poor – 59% of children under the age of five in India are anemic, generally due to a lack of iron in diets, and 38% are stunted, due to a lack of zinc. Anemia further afflicts 54% of pregnant women, posing risks to both child and adult health.

Fertilizer microdosing

A small pinch goes a long way, and that is especially true for microdosing, a strategic fertilizer placement technique developed by CGIAR researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and partners to increase fertilizer use efficiency, reduce investment costs for resource-poor small-scale farmers, and increase crop growth and productivity.

Incubators for agribusiness in dryland tropics

Small and medium agribusiness and agricultural technology start-ups often struggle to grow due to a lack of access to resources, appropriate technologies, technical and management expertise, and market support. CGIAR researchers at ICRISAT in 2003 founded the Agri-Business Incubator (ABI-ICRISAT) program to address these challenges. By leveraging research expertise and aggregating the services of various actors in the agricultural sector. The incubator was the first of its kind to focus on businesses in the agricultural sector. It has since proven to be an effective platform for translating research outputs into real market change.

Cold- and Disease-tolerant Winter-sown Chickpea Varieties

Chickpea is a staple crop that brings major economic advantages to smallholder family-farm households as a reliable source of income and can act as a nutritious alternative to meat protein either within households and for market consumers. Chickpea also improves soil quality when rotated as a break crop in conventional cereal-dominated farming systems. Despite these advantages, yields of chickpea sown in spring are low due to its poor resistance to Ascochyta blight and cold temperatures, and they are often uninformed about best winter sowing practices. Due to the drawbacks of spring sowing, and to optimize winter rainfall, ICARDA developed an innovation package that includes improved Ascochyta blight resistant and cold-tolerant chickpea seed varieties with bred-in traits that address specific needs of the regions. It also includes training courses for farmers in better production practices such as improved winter sowing, crop rotation, and conservation agriculture.

Quick-maturing Legumes for Fallow Land in South Asia

ICARDA scientists introduced early-maturing legume varieties that grow within short rice fallow seasons in South Asia, combating regional nutritional deficiencies and increasing farmers’ incomes.

South Asian diets rely heavily on legumes, yet demand outstrips supply further exacerbating regional vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Until recently, a vast area of over fifteen million hectares lays idle (fallow) every year for three months between rice harvests. To take advantage of the fallow land ICARDA developed nutritious legume crops that reach maturity quickly and can be produced within the fallow window. The result was a significant increase in farmers’ incomes, boosting the national economy and better household nutrition and food security.

Extra early Biofortified Lentils for South Asia

ICARDA biofortified lentil varieties can mature quickly within the short fallow season and are a rich source of protein, iron, and zinc, helping fight regional deficiencies.

Every year in South Asia, vast tracts of land lie idle (fallow) between harvests of crops such as rice and the next planting season. With millions in the region suffering from malnutrition, especially micronutrient malnutrition (deficiency of vitamins and minerals), ICARDA, alongside partners in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, researched, developed, and released improved varieties of lentils, a common food across the region. However unlike standard lentils, ICARDA varieties reach maturity quickly, are high in protein and natural vitamins, and are micronutrient-dense, biofortified with zinc and iron (to fight regional deficiencies).

Leveraging farmer household aspirations to target and scale agricultural innovations – an approach build on novel partnerships and methods

Historically, agricultural researchers fail to consider household aspirations in the design, targeting and dissemination of agricultural research. Most approaches implicitly assume that households want to maximize returns or outputs from their agricultural activities, neglecting the fact that most households have multiple income streams which demand their attention. While consideration of these trade-offs and interplays has been acknowledged, there has been no significant research, due in part to the lack of the tools needed to understand household aspirations. A partnership between ICRAF, ICRISAT and the Cynefin Center is shedding light on how multiple income streams interact and the role they play in determining household aspirations. The communication product itself is a useful tool to highlight the journey this took and the persistence required to explore new approaches to ultimately generate new knowledge.

Chickpea App

The Chickpea App is a communications innovation that bridges between science and education/public information, and reaches out to new audiences, engaging children and youth in dryland communities. The Chickpea App aims to encourage and educate children and youth to acquire and use new knowledge about the benefits and usages of chickpea.

Youth and children are the farmers, consumers, scientists, and policymakers of tomorrow, and on a daily basis they play a role as information intermediaries who can share information within their families and wider social circles.


VSLA success story

The Village Savings and Loan Association is empowering women across five districts in Ghana to start small businesses, increase productivity and pay for school fees and farm inputs. This has been possible through greater access to loans through the VSLA saving kit, varietal demonstrations, and training in community seed production.


Cowpea seed production combined improved varieties, trainings and multi-stakeholder platforms are some interventions by the Tropical Legumes III project that are striving to reverse the trend of rural migration in Ghana.

Nutrition Field Schools

A mix of best agricultural practices among farmers and nutrition practices and recipe training among rural women in Mali is transforming diets, has reduced cases of child malnutrition and is slowly bringing about behaviour change to overcome malnutrition in families and the community.

Young people from Kiembara’s artisanal gold sites return to agriculture

What does one do when the exploitation of gold becomes a major source of income for families at the expense of agriculture, such as in the Kiembara commune in Burkina Faso? The DRYDEV program has introduced technologies and technical innovations to recover degraded lands and improve agricultural productivity. All it takes is an attractive combination of farming techniques for farming to become attractive to young people, thereby creating sustainable jobs in the sector.

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