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Regional Network to Scale Impact of Dryland Crops in Sub-saharan Africa

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03 June 2024, Africa: The Dryland Crops Program (DCP), in collaboration with National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) partners, IITA, Alliance Bioversity & CIAT, and other African institutions, has established the African Dryland Crop Improvement Network (ADCIN). Aiming to strengthen partnerships and collaboration among partner institutions, the network focuses on improving dryland crops through crop enhancement. The ADCIN will have regional governance bodies in West and Central Africa (WCA) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).

Consultative approach to establish ADCIN and governance structure

In 2021, CIMMYT was asked to lead a CGIAR varietal improvement and seed delivery project for dryland crops with an initial focus in Africa and funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the CGIAR Accelerated Breeding Initiative. This aligns with CIMMYT’s 2030 strategic objectives, which will contribute to shaping the future of agriculture to drive climate resilience, sustainable and inclusive agricultural development, and food and nutrition security.

As CIMMYT embarked on its work to further strengthen the work on dryland crops, it held a series of consultation meetings with several NARES in the region. A joint consultation workshop with NARES and CGIAR colleagues was held in Senegal in February 2022. This was followed by the broader network members and stakeholders meeting in Ghana in January 2023. These events brought together experts and representatives from the WCA and ESA regions and various partner institutions to discuss the best approaches to improve the impact of our work on dryland crops through crop improvement. Experts discussed within and across disciplines defining breeding targets using socio-economic and gender information, developing modern breeding processes and approaches, seed systems, data-science, and forging new models of partnerships.

One significant outcome of these meetings was the recommendation to establish a formal regional dryland crop improvement network to strengthen and enhance the current partnership among NARES and CGIAR partner institution and scientists. Establishing a governance structure for this network for effective coordination and monitoring of the network partnerships was also recommended. It was agreed that this network will have two regional bodies, one each in ESA and WCA, with their own steering committees.

Later in 2023, two initial regional steering committees were formed following consultations with CGIAR and NARES partners. The goal of the committees is to improve crop varieties in the region while ensuring equitable resource allocation and promoting collaboration among network partners. Each committee is expected to provide regional governance and oversight for the diverse dryland crop networks that operate in each region. Specific roles and responsibilities include prioritizing capacity development activities for network members, approving and allocating budgets for development plans, reviewing infrastructure needs, budgeting and accounting for investments, mobilizing resources from donors, coordinating collaboration among partners, monitoring and evaluating performance, supporting policy issues, and resolving disputes among members.

Also Read: Food Security of the World: Countries that Can Save the World from Starvation

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