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.