A Field Day organized at an ICCV 92944 field in Bangladesh. Photo: PRC, Ishurdi, Bangladesh
NEW VARIETY OF CHICKPEA HELPS BANGLADESHI FARMERS FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
A new variety of chickpea, which is heat-tolerant, resistant to Botrytis grey mold (BGM) and also high-yielding, was released as BARI Chola-10 in Bangladesh. Based on ICRISAT variety ICCV 92944, this variety is expected to provide some relief to farmers in Bangladesh, which is often cited as one of the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.
The cropping system in Bangladesh is mainly rice based and chickpea is grown after the rice harvest. About 800,000 ha land of the high Barind tract in northwestern Bangladesh, which remain fallow after rice cultivation, can potentially be brought under chickpea cultivation. However, chickpea sowing is often delayed (up to December) due to late harvest of rice. As a result, the chickpea crop is exposed to heat stress during its reproductive phase. Heat stress, identified as one of the major constraints to chickpea production in Bangladesh, adversely affects pollen viability, pod set and grain yield.
ICRISAT has been working closely with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), for developing improved lines of chickpea adapted to local conditions, and has supplied over 9,000 breeding lines to Bangladesh. So far, six varieties of improved chickpea have been released from the breeding materials supplied by ICRISAT. These are Nabin (ICCL 81248), BARI Chola-2 (ICCV 10), BARI Chola-3 (ICCL 83105), BARI Chola-4 (ICCL 85222), BARI Chola-6 (ICCL 83149), BARI Chola-8 (ICCV 88003) and BARI Chola-9 (ICCV 95318).
Chickpea is one of the most important pulse crops in Bangladesh based on consumption. The domestic demand for chickpea exceeds the local supply and the deficit is met through imports. Bangladesh imported 205,000 tons of chickpea worth USD 127 million in 2013. In Bangladesh, chickpea is consumed in various forms after primary processing, i.e., dehulling, splitting, grinding, parching and roasting. Desi chickpea is consumed in different forms—fresh green seed, dried whole seed, roasted and puffed, roasted and split (phutana dhal), splits (dhal) and flour (besan). Splits and flour are the most common forms of consumption (70-75%) followed by whole seed (15-20%). Desi chickpea is more preferred by Bangladeshi consumers than the kabuli type.
Farmer Martin Lumala (center) explaining a point to the press. Photo: Daniel Ajaku, ICRISAT
DROUGHT-TOLERANT CROPS TO THE RESCUE IN KENYA
Replacing maize with drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum, millets, pigeonpea, cowpea and green gram is helping farmers overcome the failure of rains and its damaging impact on maize in Busia county in western Kenya.
Lately maize had taken over traditional crops like sorghum and millets in Busia county. With the failure of rains in the March-July and August-December rainy seasons in 2016, farmers who planted maize have been most affected.
To promote drought-tolerant crops like millets and sorghum, farmers have been trained on good agricultural practices, post-harvest handling and value addition, and have been provided with quality seed of improved varieties. Capacity building of farmers and agricultural extension workers to promote production and utilization of sorghum, finger millet and groundnuts has resulted in 62.7 tons of quality seed of the three crops being accessed by farmers in three counties in western Kenya during the 2016/17 short rainy season.
This was possible due to a collaboration between the Busia county government, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and ICRISAT. This work has been going on over the past three seasons in eight counties in Kenya.
Adoption of new technologies depends significantly on whether potential users are willing to pay a premium for the associated benefits. The new study explores farmers’ willingness to pay for drought tolerance (DT) in maize, a crop playing a leading role in the food security in southern Africa. Focusing on Zimbabwe, this research aimed at estimating the implicit prices farmers would be ready to pay for this trait compared to other preferred traits, such as, for example, grain yield, cob size, and texture.
Drought is a widespread phenomenon across Africa south of the Sahara with an estimated 22% of mid‐altitude/subtropical and 25% of lowland/tropical maize growing in regions affected annually by seasonal water shortages. Climate change is likely to increase average temperatures by of 2.1 °C in the region, which will lead to even greater water scarcity, particularly in Southern Africa, in the coming decades. Studies have indicated that an increase in temperature of 2 °C would result in grain yields decrease by 13-20%. For every day with temperature about 30 °C yield is reduced by 1% under normal conditions and by 1.7% under drought conditions.
There is evidence that the use of new crop varieties, such a drought tolerant maize, and improved management technics can offset yield losses by up to 40%. While the development of these new varieties and related technologies is laudable, their impact depends very much on the extent to which they are adopted by farmers.
This study was conducted across all geographical districts of Zimbabwe and included 1400 households.
Figure 3.1: Portulacaria afra Jacq. (spekboom) tree. Notice the skirt of rooted branches
Spekboom multiplication for combating desertification
by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Ghent University (Belgium)
One of the most interesting African plant species used to combat desertification, limiting soil erosion, producing a dense vegetation cover and a remarkable number of small, edible leaves (fodder, but also vitamin-rich food for humans), is the Spekboom or Elephant’s Bush (Portulacaria afra).
This plant species is swiftly covering dry, eroding soils and should be recommended to all global projects for alleviation of drought, combat of land degradation and halting of wind erosion.
My good friend Johan VAN DE VEN of Bamboo Sur was so kind to offer me some rooted cuttings. These are growing very well in pots and PET-bottles in my garden in Belgium.
In order to study different ways of multiplication of this Spekboom (with succulent branches and leaves), I started taking off small lateral shoots (cuttings) and planted them in some potting soil in a cake box. I also planted some of the succulent leaves (see my photos below).
Within the plastic cake box humidity is kept high (condensation of droplets on the cover). Therefore, I opened the cover from time to time to let some fresh air (oxygen) in.
Quite soon both the cuttings and the separate leaves started rooting. The cuttings swiftly developed some new leaves. A month later I transplanted them into small plastic bottles, twice perforated 2-3 cm above the bottom (for drainage, keeping a small quantity of water at the bottom for moistening the bottle’s content and the rootball).
Once fully rooted within the plastic bottle, I cut off the bottom of the bottle to set the lower part of the rootball free. Then I planted the young Spekboom in a plant pit without taking off the plastic bottle, sitting as a plastic cylinder around the rootball. That plastic cylinder continued to keep the rootball moistened (almost no evaporation) and it offered possibilities to water the sapling from time to time, whenever needed. Irrigation water runs through the plastic cylinder towards the bottom of the rootball, growing freely in the soil (irrigation water directed towards the roots growing into the soil at the bottom of the plant pit). Thus a high survival rate was guaranteed.
It is clear that multiplication of the Spekboom with rooting cuttings and leaves is very easy. It is another interesting aspect of this remarkable plant. I can only recommend a broader use of the Spekboom for reforestation, fodder production and even production of bonsais for enhancement of the annual income (export to developed countries).
Here are some photos of this experiment.
—————-Considering that people working at the Great Green Wall in Africa (or any other interested group on other continents) are looking for practical solutions to cover as soon as possible huge areas of a desertified region, one is tempted to believe that setting up nurseries to produce a sufficient number of plants should not be a problem (as these plants only need a minimum of water).
I keep dreaming of successes booked with this nice edible plant species in the combat of desertification. The day will come that the Elephant bush will be growing in all the drought-affected regions of the world. Animals will eat from it, but also malnourished children and hungry adults will find it an interesting supplement to their food.
New varieties of white maize in Pakistan have the potential to both quadruple savings of irrigation water and nearly double crop yields for farmers, thereby building food security and conserving badly needed water resources for the country.
Maize is the third most important cereal crop in Pakistan, which at a production rate of four tons per hectare, has one of the highest national yields in South Asia. Maize productivity in Pakistan has increased almost 75 percent from levels in the early 1990s due to the adoption and expansion of hybrid maize varieties. The crop is cultivated both in spring and autumn seasons and grows in all provinces throughout the country.
However, Pakistan is expected to be severely affected by climate change through increased flooding and drought, and is already one of the most water stressed countries in the world. If the country is to be able to meet future food demand, new maize varieties that can grow with less water under harsher conditions must be developed and adopted by farmers.
The Sahel is a semi-arid belt of land in Africa south of the Sahara and north of the wetter areas to the south. The Sahel extends east from the Atlantic Ocean through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, Chad and the Sudan. Most of the Sahel region consists of savannah.
Credit: Hanna Sinare
Drought-tolerant species thrive despite returning rains in the Sahel
October 19, 2016
Following the devastating droughts in the 70s and 80s in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, vegetation has now recovered. What surprised the researchers is that although it is now raining more and has become greener, it is particularly the more drought resistant species that thrive instead of the tree and shrub vegetation that has long been characteristic of the area. The conclusion is that not only rain but also agriculture and human utilization of trees, bushes and land affect the plants recovering.
The expected pattern is that a drier climate favours drought resistant species, and that a wetter climate makes it possible for species that require more rainfall to thrive. A new study, however, shows the opposite effect; that a shift to more drought tolerant species is occurring, even though it’s raining more. This shows that the recent regreening of the Sahel region can not only be explained by the fact that it rains more, which until now has been the dominant explanation.
The Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian highlands has introduced and validated various interventions (technologies) to benefit smallholder farmers. High value fruit trees, such as improved avocado and apple varieties are some of the technologies that the project has tested at its four sites in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre / ICRAF.
Avocado is mainly grown in the Southern Nation, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR). Many farmers in southern Ethiopia are familiar with and have been growing local avocado varieties.
However, these require a long gestation period to set fruits. The local varieties are also tall and therefore not easy for farmers to harvest, a process that requires much labour and time.Sometimes farmers wait 6-7 years after planting and even then end up with trees that do not set fruits.
Responding to these challenges, Africa RISING accessed grafted seedlings of five improved Avocado varieties (Hass A type, red 30, Naval, Ethinger and Fruite) from Butajira horticultural nursery (central Ethiopia) and distributed these for evaluation to a group of Africa RISING farmers at the Lemo site (Photo 1). Farmers planted the improved varieties in 2014 with strong support from the project. Subsequently, they purchased further grafted seedlings from the nursery in 2015. The improved varieties introduced by Africa RISING are setting fruits within 1-2 years. They are short, making harvesting very easy, and they are productive.
Promoting drought-tolerant maize seed in Southern Africa
The five-minute video shows CIMMYT’s work in seed systems
development and promotion. The main aim of the seed fairs, held in Mutoko and Murewa districts in Mashonaland East Province, Zimbabwe, was to help smallholder farmers access information that would help them make informed decisions in coping with drought and climate change adaptation.
A young Spekboom or Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) grown from a small cutting. This succulent, drought-tolerant, edible plant is one of the most valuable species to combat desertification. It should be used at the largest scale, e.g. in the Great Green Wall project in Africa.
Spekboom multiplication for combating desertification
One of the most interesting plant species used to combat desertification, limiting soil erosion, producing a dense vegetation cover and a remarkable number of little leaves (fodder, but also edible for humans), is the Spekboom or Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra).
My friend Johan VAN DE VEN was sokind to offer me some rooted cuttings. These were growing very well in pots and plastic bottles in my garden in Belgium. In order to study different ways of multiplication of this Spekboom (with succulent branches and leaves), I started taking off small lateral shoots (cuttings) and planted them in some moistened potting soil in a transparent cake box. I also planted some of the succulent leaves (see my photos below).
Within the plastic cake box humidity is kept high (condensation of droplets on the cover). Therefore, I opened the cover from time to time to let some fresh air (oxygen) in. Quite soon both the cuttings and leaves started rooting. The cuttings swiftly developed some new leaves. A month later, I transplanted them into small plastic bottles, twice perforated 2-3 cm (1 inch) above the bottom (for drainage, keeping a small quantity of water at the bottom for gradual moistening the bottle’s content and the rootball).
Once fully rooted within the plastic bottle, I cut off the bottom of the bottle to set the lower part of the rootball free. Then I plant the young Spekboom in a plant pit without taking off the plastic bottle, sitting as a plastic cylinder around the rootball.
The plastic cylinder will keep the rootball moistened (almost no evaporation) and it offers a possibility to water the sapling from time to time, whenever needed. Irrigation water will run through the plastic cylinder towards the bottom of the rootball growing freely in the soil (irrigation water directed towards the roots growing into the soil at the bottom of the plant pit).
Thus a high survival rate is guaranteed. After a couple of weeks, the rooted leaves started to form a stem bud from which a new plantlet grows.
It is clear that multiplication of the Spekboom with rooting cuttings and leaves is very easy. This is another interesting aspect of this remarkable plant species. I can only recommend a broader use of the Spekboom for reforestation, fodder production and even production of bonsais for enhancement of the annual income (export to developed countries).
Land restoration has brought back water and vibrant colour to a previously bleak and desolate landscape just south of the Sahara.
…it was hard to imagine that 15 years ago this land was bare and unproductive, the people relying on food aid for sustenance.
…how the sophisticated soil and water conservation structures built on the hillsides control the every-present threat of soil erosion. “These structures, together with our regenerated trees and shrubs, ensure that we can make use of every raindrop that falls during the two-month rainy season.”
…farming community has moved from barely surviving to having surplus produce to sell. New economic activities, such as beekeeping and growing fruit trees for sale, have also sprung up in the restored landscape.
…referring to Faidherbia albidas reverse phenology—the tree sheds its leaves in the wet season (when the crop is in the field) and it regains them in the dry season, when fodder is scarece. And its flowers are excellent bee forage for the community’s 50-odd beehives.
Over a thousand hectares of land have been restored here, and naturally regenerated native tree species such as podo (Podocarpus falcatus); African juniper Juniperus proceraand Cordia africana are to be found alongside planted exotic species like the nutritionally and economically important avocado.
The restoration of Geregera catchment focused on soil and water conservation measures. Thanks to the improved ground water recharge, Geregera’s water is today servicing communities living up to 30 km downstream.
…landscape regeneration has brought back numerous natural grasses and native tree species that had disappeared from Mossa. Trees like the sand olive, Dodonaea angustifolia, and bush guarri, Euclea schimperi, are back on the landscape.
Bench terraces with stone stabilization and deep trenches, along with regulated grazing, were used to control land degradation and surface runoff of water in Mossa. These measures helped improve ground water recharge. Today, the native pastoralists have fodder and water for their livestock, thanks to the grasses, shrubs, waterfall and numerous natural springs found in their restored landscape. And the farmers living on the shoulders of the valley have irrigation water.
Lessons learnt: The main ingredients that enabled land restoration in Tigray were political support, community ownership and collective action, the use of by-laws, and partnership.
“We are also supporting farmers with choosing tree species to diversify their farms with and training them in rainwater harvesting,”
Focus on some tree species mentioned above
(1) Faidherbia albida (Fabaceae)
Faidherbia is a genus of leguminous plants containing one species, Faidherbia albida, native to Africa and the Middle East. It has also been introduced to Pakistan and India. Common names for it include apple-ring acacia (their circular, indehiscent seed pods resemble apple rings),ana tree, balanzan tree and winter thorn.It is a thorny tree growing up 6–30 m (20–98 ft) tall and 2 m (6.6 ft) in trunk diameter.The bark is grey, and fissured when old. There are 11,000 seeds/kg. Its deep-penetrating tap root makes it highly resistant to drought. It grows in areas with 250–600 mm (9.8–23.6 in) of rain per year.
Faidherbia albida is important in the Sahel for raising bees, since its flowers provide bee forage at the close of the rainy season, when most other local plants do not.
The seed pods are important for raising livestock, are used as camelfodder in Nigeria, and are relished by elephant, antelope, buffalo, baboons and various browsers and grazers, though strangely ignored by warthog and zebra.
The wood is used for canoes, mortars, and pestles and the bark is pounded in Nigeria and used as a packing material on pack animals.
Ashes of the wood are used in making soap and as a depilatory and tanning agent for hides. The wood is used for carving; the thorny branches useful for a natural barbed fence. Pods and foliage are highly regarded as livestock fodder. Some 90% of Senegalese farmers interviewed by Felker (1981) collected, stored, and rationed Acacia alba pods to livestock. Zimbabweans use the pods to stupefy fish. Humans eat the boiled seeds in times of scarcity in Zimbabwe.
It is also used for nitrogen fixation, erosion control for crops, for food, drink and medicine. Unlike most other trees, it sheds its leaves in the rainy season; for this reason, it is highly valued in agroforestry as it can grow among field crops without shading them. The leaves from this legume tree are high in nitrogen, and can double yields in maize crops when added to the soil.
The extract is used to treat ocular infections in farm animals.
(2) Juniperus procera (Cupressaceae)
Juniperus procera (known by the common English names African juniper, African pencil-cedar, East African juniper, East African-cedar, and Kenya-cedar) is a coniferous tree native to mountainous areas in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It is a characteristic tree of the Afromontane flora.
Juniperus procera is a medium-sized tree reaching 20–25 m (rarely 40 m) tall, with a trunk up to 1.5–2 m diameter and a broadly conical to rounded or irregular crown. The leaves are of two forms, juvenile needle-like leaves 8–15 mm long on seedlings, and adult scale-leaves 0.5–3 mm long on older plants, arranged in decussate pairs or whorls of three. It is largely dioecious with separate male and female plants, but some individual plants produce both sexes. The cones are berry-like, 4–8 mm in diameter, blue-black with a whitish waxy bloom, and contain 2-5 seeds; they are mature in 12–18 months. The male cones are 3–5 mm long, and shed their pollen in early spring.
It is the only juniper to occur south of the equator, and is thought to be a relatively recent colonist of Africa; the species shows very little of the variability associated with a long period of evolution. It is closely related to Juniperus excelsa from southwestern Asia, probably deriving from a common ancestor with that species in southwestern Asia.
It is an important timber tree, used for building houses, for poles, for furniture; bark used for beehives.
(3) Cordia africana (Boraginaceae)
Cordia africana has been used in the manufacture of drums. … It is also sometime called Sudan Teak and has been used for cabinet making, high-quality furniture, veneers and general construction. The wood can be used to manufacture beehives which can be kept in this tree where the bees can live off the plentiful supply of nectar which comes from the flowers. In addition the tree supplies leaves for forage and an edible fruit.
(4) Dodonaea angustifolia (Sapindaceae)
Dodonaea angustifolia, the sand olive, is a slender shrub or small tree that occurs naturally from southern Africa to Arabia, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The seed capsules are three-winged and are dispersed by wind. Although naturally occurring in rocky areas it is also cultivated to stabilise moving sand and to prevent erosion. Extracts are used as medicine.
(5) Euclea schimperi (Ebenaceae)
We found a Wikipedia description for Euclea racemosa:
Euclea racemosa has leathery foliage that can be exceptionally even and dense – making it an ideal plant for hedges. A dioecious tree (male and female flowers on separate trees), it produces small white flowers, which are followed by red, purple and black fruits that attract birds. The berries are used locally to make “Guarrie vinegar”.
MY RECOMMENDATIONS TO FORM A LIVING TUNNEL
To produce a sufficient number of each of these drought-tolerant tree species
To plant these species in 2 rows over a certain distance, e.g. 50 meter.
To plant the 2 rows at a distance of e.g. 5-7 meter.
To let the trees grow vertically for a certain number of years, until they reach a sufficient height to bend them over towards the opposite row.
To prune the trees so that only the lateral branches in the plane of the 2 rows are left growing.
When the trees are high enough, to bend them over to the opposite row and to bind them to one another in order to form a “living tunnel”.
To continue pruning the living tunnel to densify the covering walls of the tunnel.
To use such living tunnels for growing fresh food in containers (buckets, pots, bottles, drums, sacks, bags, …) inside the shady tunnel.
Is there too much talk and not enough action regarding food security in Africa? For two days, stakeholders in the agricultural sector met in Nairobi, Kenya, for the 4th Africa Food Security Conference (AFSC), held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 12 and 13 October 2016. Experts in crop production, nutrition, agricultural inputs, global development and even microfinance, chimed in on the seemingly endless task of making Africa food secure. Speakers at the event called for a lasting solution to this challenge, citing low crop productivity, food loss, and wastage from under-developed food value chains as some of the biggest impediments to food security. However, climate change and variability remain the most devastating occurrences to farmers across the globe, and sub-Sahara Africa in particular.
According to a FAO report on global food losses and food waste, the food currently lost in Africa could feed 300 million people. The report also mentions that food waste and losses in developing countries occur at early stages of the food value chain, where constraints in harvesting techniques, finances and technical know-how exist. Further, 40 percent of losses in developing countries occur at post-harvest and processing levels, translating into lost income for small farmers and higher prices for poor consumers.
Tunnels of drought-tolerant plants in the drylands to combat desertification and feed people and livestock.
by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University, Belgium)
When I tell people that this is feasible, they ask me if it’s only a dream. And yet, it would be easy to construct ten thousands, even one hundred thousands of living tunnels. It suffices to choose available wooden species (trees and shrubs), native or adapted to the region. Here is a non-limited series of examples for the drylands of Africa, but one can certainly make a list of Asian, Australian or American species too:
In 2003, I brought home from Arizona a couple of cuttings of the drought-tolerant Navajo willow (Salix matsudana var. Navajo) and planted them in my garden in Belgium. They were rooting and growing extremely quickly (as Belgium is far from being a dryland). Today in 2016, they reach a height of 14 meter. In April 2011, I started building a teepee with cuttings of my “Belgian” Navajo willows. It soon became a nice “living hut”, which brought me to the idea that it would be possible to construct “living tunnels” with similar cuttings of drought-tolerant trees or shrubs.
Without exaggeration I can tell that I always get a sort of happy feeling under the canopy of trees or in a tree tunnel. Most trees can easily be sculpted by pruning into many forms, thus altering their growth. One of these forms is a tunnel. One can use it as an excellent construction for a shady walk, but my thoughts are oriented upon an application as a fantastic location for family gardening (a kitchen garden) in the drylands.
Let us have a look at some examples and thereby imagine that a family in the drylands could use these as a “garden”, where, in the shadow inside the tunnel vegetables and herbs, even fruits, can be grown to feed the family.
Now, let this be a dream for nomadic people: living houses here and there along the track. Nevertheless, even this dream can be realized !
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