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World Food Programme and ICRISAT: working to improve nutrition and build resilience in vulnerable communities

17 November 2022, Bougoula: The World Food Programme, ICRISAT and partners have come together to support farming communities in Mali with improved dryland crop varieties and ‘Smart Food’ interventions.

More than 300 farmers from two communes in Mali comprising of 162 women agri-food processors visited demonstration plots in their region growing high-yielding, climate-resilient, and biofortified varieties of sorghum, millet, groundnut and cowpea.

Farmers’ visits in the communes of Tamani, Segou region and Nonsombougou, Koulikoro region were conducted from October 25-27, 2022. They were organized as part of a collaborative project with the World Food Programme (WFP), ICRISAT, NGO Malimark and farmers’ organizations.

Farmers’ visits in Tamani

Mr Bafing Coulibaly, owner of a demonstration field of improved varieties in Bougoula, Tamani summed up the community’s response to new agricultural technologies.

“I am confident that this year my income will increase and that my production will be higher compared to the previous year. ​ I received many visitors who are all interested in the new improved varieties of sorghum, millet, groundnut and cowpea that I grow in my field.

Some of them are now planning to start producing the same varieties next year.’’

“The new sorghum varieties that I have tested meet my needs. They are climate-smart and being dual-purpose varieties, I can use it as grain for consumption and fodder for livestock,” says Mr Bafing Coulibaly. ​

Importantly, Associations of Women who process different varieties of millet, sorghum, groundnut and cowpeas participated in the farmers’ day visits as part of the nutrition component of the resilience package.

“The Smart Food component is really important to fight malnutrition in rural communities,” said Ms Awa Fofana, a processor in Soungola.

“The WFP-ICRISAT collaborative project includes a Smart Food component that is particularly important in our communities to fight food insecurity and malnutrition among children and pregnant women,” said Dr Diallo Fatimata Cissé, Head, Laboratory of Food Technology (LTA) of the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER).

Farmers’ visits in Nonsombougou

In Nonsombougou, the delegation visited a demonstration plot of producer Mr Kaka Coulibaly. The climate-smart sorghum variety Soubatimi captured the attention of all the visitors.

“It is one of the varieties with early cycles between 60 and 90 days and I am confident that it will be more profitable compared to local varieties. I hope many will benefit from the cultivation of this variety in the near future,’’ says Mr Kaka Coulibaly.

The NGO Voice

Networks of NGOs are vital to the dissemination of new varieties and their input into the day was valued from the unique place they hold in the architecture of seed distribution systems.

“We are disseminating new varieties of seeds that are highly resilient to climate change and that are biofortified and have high yields,” said Ms Aminata Tangara, Director of the NGO Malimark and co-organizer of the farmers’ visits.

Mr Boubakary Cissé, coordinator of the collaborative project of the WFP-ICRISAT project, said that these varieties will be made available to all farmers in the project implementation areas.

”Several nutrition actions will be undertaken as part of the Smart Food component. ​ Many culinary and nutritional training programs are already planned in different localities,” he said.

The main objective of the WFP-ICRISAT collaborative project is to strengthen food and nutrition security in the face of climate change. The project commenced in 2022 and is being implemented in the regions of Segou, Koulikoro, Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu in Mali by ICRISAT, IER and the NGOs Malimark, CAID (Cellule d’appui aux initiatives de development ​ Nyeta Conseils and AMASSA Afrique Verte.

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