A dryland cereals improvement project ‘HOPE Phase 2’ aimed at improving productivity of sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet will be launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Harmony Hotel on May 11, 2016. The initiative, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims at helping farmers in six sub-Saharan Africa countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, cope with the effects of drought, and reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
Given the severity of intermittent drought in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in eastern and southern Africa the past three years, this project will work towards promoting sorghum and millets, which are the most inherently drought tolerant of all major staples. They are also highly valued as nutritious food due to their high levels of vitamins, protein and micronutrients that provide multiple health benefits. Finger millet, for example, has exceptionally high levels of calcium (10-40 times more than other cereals) and relatively lower energy content, making it ideal for weaning children, and for pregnant and nursing mothers. It also has a low glycemic index and so good for those suffering from diabetes.
“These crops are drought tolerant and give a good yield even with very little rain when other cereals fail. They are also nutritionally superior compared to other crops which mean that even the affected communities during drought can still get excellent nutrition that is available with the reduced harvests,” said Dr. Moses Siambi, Regional Director, ICRISAT, the lead implementing center.
‘HOPE Phase 2’ will build on the achievements and lessons learned during ‘HOPE Phase 1’, which came to an end in 2015 and will primarily aim at scaling up farmer uptake of improved varieties that meet the needs of producers and consumers. The team will also work with national and private seed companies to make improved seeds more affordable and accessible.
Speakers at the HOPE Launch will include:
- Dr. Yilma Kebede – Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA
- Dr. Peter Carberry – Deputy Director General, ICRISAT
- Dr. Fentahun Mengistu – Director General, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Ethiopia
- Dr. Halidou Compaore – Director General, Institut de l’Environnement et des Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso
- Dr Agona – Director General, National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda