New leadership for Iraq conservation agriculture

July 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr Stephen Loss

Dr Stephen Loss recently joined ICARDA’s Amman office to lead the third phase of the Iraq Conservation Agriculture Project with funding from ACIAR. Under the leadership of Dr Colin Piggin, the first phases of the project demonstrated significant cost savings and yield increases with reduced tillage, and worked closely with local manufacturers to make cost effective zero-till seeders available to farmers in northern Iraq and Syria. The subsequent adoption of reduced tillage in these countries has been encouraging. Stephen says “I’m looking forward to the challenge of maintaining the momentum of this important project and collaborating with the numerous partners in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Australia”.

Stephen obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with Honours and his PhD in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition from The University of Western Australia. He has more than 25 years experience working with cereals and legumes in the Mediterranean-type environments of Western Australia. The uptake of conservation cropping in this region has exploded over the past two decades and it was recently estimated that more than 90% of farmers currently use reduced tillage seeders. Stephen is joined by his wife Sheelagh and their three children.”My wife and I spent two months at ICARDA in Aleppo in 1997, and the whole family is now looking forward to the wonderful cultural experience of living in Amman,” he says.


New Developments at ICARDA

July 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Since our last update of 13 May 2012, there have been new developments at ICARDA. These are being misrepresented in some of the media and resulting in misinformation. The facts of ICARDA’s current situation are as follows:

On 2 July 2012, we decided that our headquarters and principal research station at Tel Hadya, 30km outside Aleppo, is no longer secure. Armed groups have intruded for several nights and stolen vehicles, some farm machinery, equipment and computers.

Fortunately, our e-mail and financial systems and our data bases have already been transferred to the cloud and are fully accessible. All buildings and laboratories are safe, including the gene bank. All our gene bank accessions have already been safety duplicated in the locations outside Syria.

In light of these events, and in the interests of the safety of our staff, we have reduced our activities at Tel Hadya to a minimum, and re-located the majority of our staff and all valuable scientific and professional equipment and data to our premises in Aleppo, where we are establishing our offices and some laboratories.

As of 3 July, the Government of Syria provided protection around Tel Hadya, since when the situation is calm, and we are monitoring the situation. Fortunately, the cropping season was successfully completed. and we had already harvested more than 95% of the field experimentation and the seed increases. The remaining fields are being completed.

Most of our expatriate staff has already relocated to ICARDA’s regional offices and they continue to implement their research programs and projects in 40+ countries. A few key principal scientists and all of senior management remain in Aleppo and will relocate depending on the security situation.

The last few days have been most critical and we would like to commend the Center’s senior management and our dedicated local staff for the huge undertaking in moving so much of our valuable assets from Tel Hadya to the Aleppo city.


Henri Carsalade, Chair, Board of Trustees

Mahmoud Solh, Director General

Sub-Saharan Africa hosts CRP1.1 Dryland Systems inception workshops

July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CRP1.1 Dryland Systems partners and stakeholders gathered in Nairobi to debate the details of research action sites and partnership roles for the program

The launch process for the CRP1.1 continues with Regional Inception Workshops working with the widest range of partners and stakeholders to define partnership roles and research sites. The Dryland Systems research program aims to identify and develop resilient, diversified and more productive combinations of mixed crop, vegetables, livestock, rangeland, and  tree agro-ecosystems that have the potential to be scaled-out, where water is scarce. It targets the poor and highly vulnerable populations of the dry areas. It aims to develop technology, policy and institutional innovations to improve livelihoods, using an integrated agro-ecosystems approach.A three-day workshop on the “Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas” (CRP1.1/Dryland Systems), for the West Africa Sahel & Dry Savannas (WAS&DS) was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa) during May 28th to 30th. The meeting was presided over by that country’s Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation, Prof. Gnissa Isaïe Konate. The workshop was organized by the World Agroforestry Center, and some sixty delegates attended.
Similarly, in Nairobi June 5th to 7th over 45 researchers and development partners met at the regional workshop for East and Southern Africa, kindly hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

ICARDA organized these events along with seven other CGIAR Consortium Centres including the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), ICRISAT, ILRI, IMWI, CIP, CIAT and Bioversity International, and the Sub-Saharan Challenge Program (SSA-CP).
Both meetings were facilitated in a highly participatory manner over the three days. In this spirit, the participants discussed the key constraints and challenges of achieving food security and improving rural livelihoods in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa.  During the workshop, participants finalized the mapping out of the Program’s Action Sites, developed a consensus around the key constraints and research hypotheses at each Action Site, finalized Site characterization, and clarified the roles of multiple partners.  The final outcomes reflect the engaged participation of all participants and puts this CRP on a good footing for its next steps, says Dr Maarten van Ginkel, ICARDA Deputy Director General of Research and interim “Dryland Systems “Director.

Wheat co-operators tour IWWIP trial sites in Turkey

July 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On tour in Turkey. Plotting the future of winter
wheat, its multiplication and disease resistance

Co-operators from some 12 CWANA countries visited the International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP) trial sites at locations across Turkey on June 4th to 9th. Other major IWWIP breeding and selection sites are located at ICARDA HQ and with its partners.The 30 participants visited the Edirne Institute where the main seed multiplications take place for international seed distribution. They viewed the plots to see how seed multiplication has been realized in IWWIP and evaluated the material under high yield potential conditions. The group next visited Sakarya Agricultural Research Institute where there was a heavy natural leaf rust epidemic evident, this year as every year. This gave a good opportunity to evaluate the material under heavy leaf rust epidemic conditions.

Next on the itinerary was the Eskisehir Agricultural Research Institute, one of the main breeding sites for IWWIP in Turkey. Part of the crossing program is realized in this institute, including planting and selecting among segregating populations, and preliminary and advanced yield trials. The group was very much impressed by the size of the program in Eskisehir, the yield potential under irrigated conditions and the drought tolerance in the rainfed trials.  Next day the tour took in the Central Research Institute for Field Crops (CRIFC) in Ankara, where IWWIP mainly screens the material for Yellow (Stripe) Rust. The group went through the nurseries for yellow rust in Ankara and were able to select outstanding resistant entries.

Conclusions from the tour and group discussions included:

  • Drought is the number one yield limiting factor among abiotic stresses and  terminal drought and heat tolerance is more important than early season drought tolerance.
  • Yellow rust  is still the main yield limiting factor in terms of biotic stresses, but leaf rust and stem rust resistance should be also emphasized.
  • The IWWIP web site ( is an important network for communication and data sharing.

Outstanding genotypes were identified originating from both the Turkey- and  Syria-based breeding hubs of IWWIP.

Palestine Environment Minister visits ICARDA West Asia Regional Program

July 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

His Excellency Dr. Yousef Abu Safieh, Minister of Environment at the Palestinian National Authority, accompanied by Engineer Zaghloul Samhan, DG of Policies and Planning Directorate, visited ICARDA West Asia Regional Program in Amman, Jordan on 24th June 2012. He met with Dr. Kamel Shideed, ADG for International Cooperation and Communication and with Dr. Nasri Haddad, Regional Coordinator WARP.

The discussion focused on the collaboration between ICARDA and Palestine where Dr. Haddad gave a briefing on the ongoing projects implemented  with financial support from the Netherlands Government, USAID and The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD).

One of the projects on the safe use of treated wastewater and grey water in agriculture, which is implemented in both the West Bank and Gaza, has an important environmental component  and the Ministry is keen to get involved in such activities. Discussion also covered new areas for potential future cooperation. The Ministry is interested in developing joint proposals with ICARDA to include:  biodiversity conservation, land and water conservation, and rangeland rehabilitation – in addition to the capacity building of the Ministry’s staff.

Dr. Shideed reiterated ICARDA’s commitment to continue and strengthen its cooperation with Palestine and  a genuine readiness to participate in joint initiatives with the Ministry of Environment.

Lessons in science writing

July 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pens at the ready – trainees gather for the Science
Writing course in Amman, Jordan

There is nothing more useless and expensive than un-communicated science, lying forgotten on a dusty shelf. The solution is to ensure that the proper communication of results and outcomes is built in to the research process.
With this in mind, some 14 research colleagues gathered in Amman, Jordan on June 10th to 21st for the first of what could be a series of training courses on Science Writing and Presentation Skills. The group comprised key partners from NARS working with ICARDA on the Integrated Water and Land Management Program (IWLMP) from seven countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, and Yemen.The course tutors, Michael Devlin and Richard Sanders from ICARDA’s Communications, Documentation and Information Services (CODIS) coached the trainees in a range of writing and presentation activities from summary skills, through poster production, PowerPoint technique and pitfalls, donor reports and proposal writing.

“It was very gratifying to see the progress made by the participants over the two weeks, with real confidence building in the presentations and in the technical English language skills from many colleagues more used to spending their working days conversing in French or Arabic,” said Richard Sanders of CODIS. The course content will now be refined and made ready for future courses on science writing for both ICARDA staff and other NARS/research partners.

10th anniversary for water productivity course

July 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The ICARDA Integrated Water and Land Management Program (IWLMP) conducted a three week, training course on “Improving Water Productivity in Agricultural Systems” with an emphasis on water harvesting, supplemental and full irrigation from May 6th – 24th, at the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE) in Amman, Jordan. The course was supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
This was the 10th consecutive year of offering this course. Trainees this year included 10 from Iraq, 4 from Syria and 1 from Jordan. The training program included a balanced mix of lectures by ICARDA scientists and guests from universities and NARS, field visits to ICARDA project sites around Amman, visits to labs, and hands-on experience in using field experimental equipment. The trainees’ performance was evaluated with tests, group project proposal presentations and interactive learning sessions.

Dryland Systems Director arrives

July 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dr William (Bill) Payne

has joined ICARDA as Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas (CRP1.1 / Dryland Systems).

Bill received his MSc and PhD degrees from Texas A&M University in Soils Science. Since 2000, Bill has held a number of positions at Texas A&M University, USA.  Prior to joining ICARDA he was Professor of Crop Physiology, Professor of Molecular and Environmental Physiology, and Assistant Director for Research at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, Texas A&M University.

He also lived and worked for about ten years in West Africa. Bill’s expertise includes crop physiology, systems agronomy, soil physics and hydrology, soil fertility and plant nutrition, international agricultural sustainability, agro-climatology, modeling and crop diversification, research administration and planning, as well as training numerous graduate students.

New training specialist

July 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Charles Kleinermann

Welcome to Charles Kleinermann, who has recently joined ICARDA as Technical Training Officer in the Capacity Development Unit.
Before joining ICARDA, Charles has worked in training and capacity development, in donor-relations and in designing and leading staff in organizing conferences and seminars, including moderating press conferences. Charles coordinated the successful operation of the training academy of the European Movement International (EMI) throughout his work with the Movement.

Charles is a graduate in Political Sciences and International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain-la- Neuve, Belgium with a Masters in European Studies from the same university. He also holds another degree in Political Sciences from the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie – St Joseph University in Lebanon.

Heading up ICARDA in Arabian Peninsula

July 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Faisal Awawdeh has been appointed as the new Regional Coordinator, of ICARDA’s Arabian Peninsula Regional Program (APRP).
Dr. Awawdeh has wide experience in technical and management positions and extensive cooperation with regional, national and international organizations. He is obtained a PhD in Animal Sciences from Washington State University, Pullman, USA in 1997.

He was the Director General of the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), Amman, Jordan, from 2007 till April 2012. Before that he was the Assistant Director General of NCARE and the Assistant Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture in Jordan 2004-2007. He also worked with the Arab Authority for Agriculture Investment and Development (AAAID) from 2003-2004.

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