Canada trip delivers promise of new funding and new collaboration

October 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICARDA Director General Dr Mahmoud Solh welcomed at IDRC HQ in Ottowa by Dr David Malone IDRC President (right) and Dr Jean Lebel, IDRC Vice President (left)

New research and development work with partners in Canada is set to be the product of what’s been described as an excellent and productive trip to Ottawa by ICARDA’s Director General Dr Mahmoud Solh. ICARDA Board Member Mr John Coleman kindly organized the visit and accompanied Dr Solh in his delegation. At a meeting with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) it was made clear by Dr David Malone (IDRC President) and Dr Jean Lebel (Vice President IDRC) that they would like to strengthen their research partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa. IDRC sees ICARDA as among the strongest research institutions in the region and IDRC is already an important funder for the Dryland Systems CRP 1.1. The IDRC meeting also discussed specific areas for future collaborative research, including food security and climate change. Dr Solh visited the AAFC (Department of Agriculture and Agrifood of Canada) experimental farm near Ottawa and met with Dr. Gilles Saindon, the Director General for Research, Development and Technology for the central Canada region and Mr. Robert Patzer, Director of International Engagement.

AAFC scientists presented overviews of their research and identified concrete possibilities for cooperation. One example was the dry land area provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta which hold opportunities for collaboration in lentil and other crops. Discussions were also initiated on a MOU with AAFC to serve as a framework for collaboration.

At a meeting with Michael Callan, the Director of CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) North Africa and Middle East Program, Dr Solh discussed opportunities for partnership in the region. They particularly examined the possible CIDA participation in ICARDA’s annual regional coordination meeting for the Nile Valley and SSA Regional Program.

Hands-on training in weather and soil instrumentation

October 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning about an infiltrometer in the field

The Iraq Salinity Project (funded by ACIAR, AusAID and the Italian government) organized a training course during September 30th – October 4th in Erbil (Iraq) on the assessment of soil-water balance and salinity. The trainees were 18 technicians from various government agencies across Iraq, and they enjoyed a mix of lectures, field demonstrations and hands-on training on the assembly, calibration and use of equipment such as micro-climate weather station, and infiltrometers to measure the speed at which water passes through the soil. The technicians will now use this equipment for monitoring soil-water and salinity dynamics during the growing season with the objective of understanding how best practice can be adopted by receptive farmers to help manage salinity in the field.

Amman meetings for IFAD funded climate change/rain-fed barley, food security, project in Iraq and Jordan

October 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Steering committee members for the IFAD climate change/rain-fed barley project gathered in Amman

The 2nd Technical Planning and Steering Committee meetings for the IFAD funded project – “ Improving the Food Security and Climate Change Adaptability of Rainfed Barley-based System in Iraq and Jordan” were held in Amman October 1st to 4th 2012. The meeting was attended by 35 researchers and senior managers from Iraq, Jordan and ICARDA. They reviewed the results of the 2011/2012 season which was a very dry season in both countries. The establishment of baseline socioeconomic studies, household surveys, the demonstration of conservation agriculture using relatively cheap and regionally produced zero tillage seeders, and the role of the project in improving the extension system mechanisms in both countries were all on the agenda. An important component in the project relates to adaptation to climate change and detailed climate change maps to help predict climate change effects at the project target site and community level. Dr. Kamel Shideed ADG-ICC in his statement to the steering committee, reiterated ICARDA’s commitment to agricultural development in the region through its research for development work in cooperation with the national agricultural research and extension system (NARES). Mr Abdelkareem Sma, IFAD representative to the meeting, indicated ongoing IFAD interest in the problems addressed by the project and especially the adaptation to climate change.

Reviewing ICARDA’s impact on improved food security in Palestine

October 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A review of ICARDA project achievements implemented in Palestine was the subject of a workshop held there on October 7th 2012, under the auspices of His Excellency Eng Walid Assaf, Minister of Agriculture. The workshop was organized by the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in collaboration with ICARDA. Participants included representatives of NARC staff, Ministry of Agriculture Directorates and farmers, NGOs, international organizations and universities. In his inauguration statement His Excellency the Minister emphasized the importance of agriculture in the Palestinian economy, in keeping rural people on their land, and its role in strengthening food security. He well appreciated the role of ICARDA, working in cooperation with the NARC in agricultural research. He also thanked the project donors and in particular the Netherlands government and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) for their financial support. Dr. Mohammed Abu Eid, Director General of NARC also thanked ICARDA for the intensive program it has in Palestine. Dr. Abdallah Alimari, National Coordinator of ICARDA in Palestine added that the work and cooperation covers the improvement of food and feed crops, biotechnology, water management and water harvesting, and the reuse of treated wastewater and greywater, conservation of genetic resources including the landraces of the main crops from Palestine, in addition to an intensive program on capacity building for technical staff and farmers.

Certified cereal seed production in Lebanon – now a reality

October 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

H.E. Minister of Agriculture Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan (centre) and Dr. Michel Afram (second left), President and DG of LARI tour the new seed storage facilities at LARI, Tel Amara in Bekaa, Lebanon

The Minister of Agriculture for Lebanon, Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan held a press conference at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) on October 6th 2012 to announce the availability of more than 4000 tonnes of wheat and 600 tonnes of barley certified seeds for distribution to farmers at competitive prices (USD 333/tonne). The seed is available now following the seed production and improvement program initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon in 2009 with technical support from ICARDA. This help from ICARDA has included training and the provision of 15 tonnes of foundation seed, representing 13 improved varieties of wheat, barley, lentil and chickpea, The press conference was attended by more than 200 farmers keen to have access to these varieties, knowing they will no longer have to use expensive imported seeds of varieties whose yields are often unpredictable and which suffer from abiotic and biotic stresses. The available wheat seed represent mostly ICARDA durum wheat varieties (Miki, Lahn, Azeghar & ICARASHA) and are expected to result in a significant improvement in wheat production in Lebanon.

Training for Agricultural Extension and Technology Transfer in Oman

October 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Participants at the opening session, H.E. Ishaq Al Ruqaishi, Undersecretary, MAF (center), Dr Ismahane El Ouafi, Director General, International Center for Bio saline Agriculture ICBA (4th from right) and Dr Faisal Awawdeh, ICARDA-APRP Regional Coordinator

A training course on “Agricultural Extension and Technology Transfer” was recently held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Sultanate of Oman (MAF) in collaboration with ICARDA Arabian Peninsula Program. Good extension and technology transfer work underpins agriculture, the course participants heard. The event was held from October 1st to 3rd 2012 with 26 extension agents and specialists from seven Arabian Peninsula countries.

The course was presented by Prof. Dr Yehia Ali Zahran from Mansoura University, Egypt. The three main components were 1) Communication and facilitation in extension work and participatory technology development; 2) Agricultural extension methods and evaluation of approaches; and 3) Agricultural knowledge systems management and the challenges of extension reform.

Addressing food security challenges in the dry areas

October 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICARDA Planning Meeting, 22-23 September, Amman

ICARDA scientists have finalized research plans for the 2012-13 season, and outlined longer term plans – including opportunities to build on previous successes by gradually decentralizing some activities in partnership with national research programs. These were key outcomes from ICARDA’s Annual Planning Meeting, held in Amman, Jordan, 22-23 September. The meeting brought together scientists from ICARDA offices in 12 countries.

Results from the 2011-12 season were excellent. New technologies are being tested, validated and scaled out through multi-country, multi-partner projects. The research portfolio continues to expand. “ICARDA remains a center of excellence,” said Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General. “The challenge now is to continue to grow, and to strengthen our research partnerships worldwide.”

Recent feedback from investors has been encouraging. Canadian partners such as IDRC and CIDA have expressed interest in new collaboration. The World Bank is considering funding research on dryland production systems in Africa. An ICARDA team is working with Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture and USAID to develop a broad-ranging research-for-development program. “This reflects the confidence that donors – and even more important, national partners – have in our work,” said Dr Solh.

The planning meeting brought together staff from ICARDA offices in 12 countries.

New initiatives

October 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A new project will help scale out improved legume technologies in Bangladesh and Nepal

Three major new projects were launched in September and October, funded by the Australian government (ACIAR/AusAID): conservation agriculture in Iraq, a similar project for North Africa, and integrated watershed management in Pakistan. Another project on legume crops in Bangaladesh and Nepal, funded by OFID, will begin operations later this year.

CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs)

October 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CRP1.1 research sites in East and Southern Africa:
the Chiyanga Triangle, covering parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia

ICARDA is a major player in global CRPs funded through the CGIAR Consortium. We are the lead Center in CRP1.1 (Dryland Systems), and co-leader of the CRP on wheat. ICARDA will also play a central role in six other CRPs: Grain legumes; Dryland cereals, Milk, meat and fish, Water, land and agro-ecosystems, Climate change, and Policies, institutions and markets.

The inception phase of  Dryland Systems began in 2012, and involves more than 80 partner organizations worldwide. Researchers will use a multi-disciplinary integrated, approach, focusing on entire agro-ecosystems, not just the individual components. The groundwork has been completed in all five target regions. Target areas and research sites have been selected and characterized, research priorities identified, workplans, timeframes and responsibilities agreed. Five Regional Inception Workshops were held earlier this year, bringing together the full range of stakeholders, and creating the necessary conditions for smooth implementation.

Helping farmers adapt to climate change

October 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICARDA’s long experience in areas with low rainfall and high climate variability gives it unique comparative advantages in research on climate change adaptation. Under the Climate Change CRP, ICARDA will lead sub-projects on drought mitigation, identifying adapted (e.g. drought and salt tolerant) crop genotypes and rangeland species; simulation modeling to predict impacts on rangeland species, crop yield and crop water availability; changes in insect pest and disease distribution; and the effects of extreme rainfall events on agro-ecosystems. Much of this work is ongoing in various ICARDA projects; results will feed into CRP components.

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