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World community of policy makers, donors, development and research convenes in Tashkent to support the country's national food program


Uzbekistan convened an international conference of high-Level political figures, donors, developmental organizations and leading agricultural researchers in June at its international conference on food security and improved agricultural production. CGIAR and ICARDA were invited to provide input to strategy and technical sessions, sharing its expertise of supporting drylands countries to improve their livelihoods. The meeting was opened by the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov and FAO Director General Jose Graziano de Silva. Further keynote presentations were given by senior member of the Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, World Bank, the European Union and Uzbekistan’s Minister of Agriculture, H.E. ICARDA’s Dr Kamel Shideed attended the meeting representing the center and CGIAR.     


ICARDA also provided its expertise to the debate in a session on applying science and technology for improved vegetable and grape productivity, moderated by Uzbek Minister of the Economy, H.E. Galina Saidova together with Dr. Kamel Shideed. The session presented and discussed approaches of agricultural research centers in China, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia the UK and Uzbekistan. Opening the session, Dr. Shideed set the scene by summarizing the task faced by all drylands countries that aspire to improve sustainable intensification of their agricultural production systems: “We can no longer pursue ‘efficiency-productivity’ targets at the expense of the social and environmental aspects of food production systems,” he commented. Moving research and technical innovation into the hands of small holder farmers is the challenge before the development community, and an important factor in driving national economic growth, he said. Participants in this session had a wide-ranging discussion, sharing experience on genetic improvement of vegetables, on value added processing and production approaches, seed multiplication techniques and the efficient management of natural resources.


Uzbek Minister of Economy, Galina Saidova and ICARDA's Assistant Director General, Kamel Shideed lead discussion on increased productivity and food security of vegetables, to inform the national food program.



Abu Dhabi: Joining the CGIAR and increasing collaboration with ICARDA and other CGIAR Centers


Recognizing the benefits of becoming a CGIAR member, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) is taking steps to join CGIAR as a donor, including strengthening its collaboration with ICARDA through a Memorandum of Understanding as well as collaboration with other CGIAR Centers.


A high-level CGIAR delegation – comprised of Dr. Mahmoud Solh, ICARDA Director General; Dr. Tony Kalm, Deputy Head of CGIAR Fund Office; Dr. Azaiez Belgacem, Regional Coordinator of APRP; and Dr. Arash Najtian, of ICARDA’s Dubai Office – visited ADFCA in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. last month.  The delegation presented the current priorities of CGIAR and its reform process and discussed options for the ADFCA to become a CGIAR member.


As a next step it was agreed that a technical delegation will soon visit ADFCA to review potential areas for collaboration with ICARDA and other CGIAR centers.  Based on the outcome of this visit, ADFCA will review options for CGIAR membership. The MoU between ADFCA and ICARDA was signed at the end of June during the 39th Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank.  The MoU specified a range of activities aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two organizations, and areas for enhancing technical research.


Meeting in Al Kuwaitate; from Left Dr Azaiez Ouled Belgacem, H.E. Rashid Khalfan Al Shariqi, Dr Mahmoud Solh, Dr Antony Kalm and Dr Mohamed Salem Al Hammadi.



Strengthening research cooperation ties China and South Asia


Agricultural research and development partners from five South Asian and countries and China met with ICARDA colleagues to review achievements of the past five years of collaborative research program, and shape the agenda for the coming year. The third Regional Coordination Meeting of ICARDA South Asia & China Regional Program, held in Beijing in June, brought together participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.


More than 80 participants from Chinese agricultural universities and institutes attended the meeting’s opening session, chaired by Dr. Zhang Yanqing, Director General of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture (IEDA).  In his address, head of the ICARDA delegation, Dr. Kamel Shideed, ICARDA Assistant Director General for International Cooperation and Communication, stressed the importance of strengthening research capacity and the ability to deliver research to meet drylands development challenges, to create a regional platform for the exchange of scientific knowledge, and to secure support from international and national donors to enhance research collaboration between the partner countries. He also introduced the planned Food Legume Research Platform in Madhya Pradesh, India, which will provide knowledge and expertise on food legumes in the South Asia-China region and globally.


In a special technical session, 60 national experts reviewed the progress of their activities and discussed future proposals, developing work plans for the partnership’s next phase. The group saw some of the research in action in China, visiting field sites in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province and research stations in Dongyang, Shouyang, Jingshang and Zongai, where they interacted with farmers and researchers.


In addition to this research consultation, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and ICARDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding that aims to improve research and the delivery of solutions to improve food and nutrition security for drylands populations in China and South Asia. This new agreement is the culmination of over three decades of collaboration between ICARDA and CAAS on a wide range of activities, ranging from capacity development and crop improvement to germplasm exchange for plant genetic materials.


Partners from six South Asian countries and China review progress of five years of strategic research to enhance food security.

Visit to research sites in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province

Experts review five years' of research in the technical



Barley for South Asia: A climate change crop that brings stability to resource poor farmers


Some 50 leading barley scientists from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, came together with development and extension agencies, farmer’s organizations and industry partners to explore the potential of increasing barley production for improved food security and income in this region. The end result of the research for development consultation was an agreement to enhance regional cooperation. The workshop on barley research was organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ICARDA. This builds on the center’s expertise on development of low and high-input barley varieties and production systems and its leadership of the global barley improvement mandate for CGIAR.


The partners agreed to increase collaboration in South Asia to develop improved plant types, popularize barely cultivation in the region, and increase access to quality seed for farmers in effective private-public partnerships.  Participants acknowledged the importance of developing barley-based local food products to take advantage of the health-promoting benefits of the grain. They also developed barley research and development strategies for the region.


The improved barley varieties and technologies identified by the partners have the potential to be scaled-out to similar agro-ecosystems in other areas worldwide. Partners also explored how to increase capacity building of scientific and technical staff for rust screening and quality evaluation to support the overall development of barely research in the region. In addition to malting and feed barley, new food barley varieties are being developed to tap the crop’s nutritional properties. A series of baseline surveys on barley in India informed the challenges facing barley farmers, and set the scene for expanded capacity building of farmers and of extension personnel.


Crafting research strategies to expand barley production for smallholder communities were at the heart of discussions at the South Asia Regional Workshop on Barley.



Grain Legumes – triple benefits for farmers, nutrition and soil fertility


Food legumes bring multiple benefits to smallholder communities –
better nutrition, the prospect of new income streams, and increased soil fertility when rotated with wheat or barley. Through its research program, ICARDA is a catalyst for promoting improved varieties of legumes and their wider use in many countries over the past two decades. This report highlights recent results in ICARDA legumes research in Morocco. A key element of this work is the center’s expertise and science provided to the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.  
Farmers test and recommend improved food legume varieties
Despite being an integral part of rainfed agriculture in Morocco, food legume productivity has been hard hit in recent years by a series of challenges and debilitating constraints: an acute shortage of labor for tasks such as weeding and harvesting and rampant infestation


by orobanche weeds. ICARDA supports Morocco’s national agricultural research program in its efforts to reverse this situation through breeding to develop improved chickpea, faba bean, and lentil varieties that are suitable for machine harvesting. A set of 25 improved chickpea lines is being tested in on-farm trials and demonstrated to 45 farmers. Participating farmers are providing practical input to the research process, rating varieties for their potential for most effective machine harvesting and other important criterial for market value such as seed size, color, and visual appearance.  All the varieties tested scored well. The best-performing ones will be proposed to national breeding programs.  


South-South research and learning: India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative
In another initiative on legumes, ICARDA contributed to the annual review and planning meeting of the India-Morocco Food Legume Initiative, held in New Delhi, to review progress and plan activities for the coming year.


An innovative partnership between India, Morocco, and ICARDA is sparking new south-south learning, and the transfer of technologies and practices. The end result will be fast-track development and dissemination of proven food legume technologies that will improve nutrition and food security in the North Africa and South Asia. At the Food Legumes Initiative’s second annual review and planning meeting, research teams tracked progress and shared recent achievements. Participants reviewed work completed and developed the 2014-15 workplan for the project: “Increasing food legumes production by small farmers to strengthen food and nutrition security through adoption of improved technologies and governance within South-South cooperation.” The initiative has an innovative south-south research and knowledge sharing component, bringing together senior officials from Morocco’s Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) Foundation, ICARDA, International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, and the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals. Participants exchanged experience on progress of their trials in India and Morocco, aimed at raising the productivity of pulses and the income generation potential of new varieties of chickpea and lentils.


Dr. Aakash Goyal, ICARDA chickpea breeder, with Moroccan farmers during farmers' participatory selection in Karim Moullablad farm

India-Morocco Food Legumes Initiative team transfers food security know-how from South Asia to North Africa.



International awards for ICARDA Board members


In recognition of their contributions and commitments to agricultural research for development, two ICARDA Board of Trustees members have been awarded international prizes. Dr. Michel Afram, Host Country representative for Lebanon and current President of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), and Dr. Susan Schram, Vice-President at Washington DC-based NGO ACDI/VOCA, bring extensive experience to international research for development.


Dr. Michel Afram received three awards: the International Platinum Award for Best Practice and Quality in Management; the Golden Award for Best Research and Practice from the European Society for Quality Research; and the Best Human Quality in Leadership from BID-UN. These follow two awards he received last year: the International Golden Award for Best Practice as a General Director in Management from BID-UN awarded last September; and the London-Oxford-Award for best research activities.


At the 50th meeting of the U.S.-based Association for, held on June 1-3 2014 Dr. Schram received the ‘50th Anniversary Presidential Award,’ from the International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) in recognition of her years of valuable service to the organization and the global agricultural community. AIARD is an association of professionals who have devoted their careers to the alleviation of world hunger through global agricultural development. Dr. Schram was the first recipient of this AIARD award. She has served as its President twice, led advocacy efforts, initiated the organization’s
Future Leader’s Forum, a competitive scholarship program for students of agriculture  and rural development, and has authored several AIARD publications.


Michael McGirr, AIARD President, commented: “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, this is the perfect time to recognize Sue Schram for all that she has accomplished for AIARD and the broader community our organization represents.  In addition to serving two terms as AIARD President, Sue has provided leadership by raising awareness and influencing policy through education and advocacy, authoring publications, organizing forums on Capitol Hill, and providing critical guidance to all of us who served as Presidents. This is the first time in our 50-year history that AIARD has made this special award and I can think of no one more deserving than Sue.”


Dr. Michel Afram

Dr. Susan Schram