28 April 2023, Africa: Two of Belgium’s top agricultural research institutes are collaborating with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to launch a new climate adaptation initiative in Mali that aims to safeguard sorghum yield – a crop that millions depend on for food and income in the West African nation.
The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) and the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) along with the Mali Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) and the Agene Nationale de la Meteorologie (Mali-METEO), launched the ‘StratAdapt-Mali’ project on the 4th of April 23.
The groundbreaking project will aid rural farming communities, agricultural researchers, and other stakeholders to better plan in the face of extreme weather, through training and advanced crop and climate modelling technology that translates raw climate data into actionable information suited to local communities.
This includes CLIMTAG, a web-based tool developed by VITO, that uses climate data to create tailored agro-climate indicators for impact assessment and adaptation planning in agriculture.
The platform also offers climate forecast indicators, such as rainfall, temperature, and the onset of the rainy season, to guide strategic planning and decision-making for extension services and farmers, especially during extreme weather events to combat the devasting effects of climate change on the country.
Mali has experienced several droughts in recent years. In 2012, a severe drought affected over 4.6 million people. It resulted in crop failure and the death of livestock, which led to food shortages and malnutrition. It also exacerbated the ongoing conflict in the country, as many people were displaced and struggled to access basic necessities.
Director General of ICRISAT Dr Jacqueline Hughes applauded the Flemish Government for funding the innovative project which she said would augment the Government of Mali and ICRISAT’s ongoing efforts to improve food security in the West African nation
“More than 80% of the population in Mali is engaged in farming and its agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods, and erratic rainfall, which pose a significant threat to food security.
“By strengthening the ability of stakeholders to implement climate-smart adaptation strategies for food production we can help safeguard vulnerable communities in particular women and children, and improve the resilience of the nation’s food systems,” said Dr Hughes.
Speaking at the launch, the Director of the Mali Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Oumar Tamboura said his team was determined to support the project’s objectives through the dissemination of agro-climatic information to agropastoralists and the co-creation of climate change adaptation strategies.
The Project’s lead Dr Folorunso Akinseye expressed his delight at the CLIMTAG tool being adopted in twenty-three countries to date and that it would now be piloted and adapted to the Malian context.
ICRISAT’s Mali Country Representative Dr Macdonald Jumbo added the project exemplified ICRISAT’s commitment to working with local stakeholders to ensure new solutions were fit for purpose and that suited the country’s context.
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