Research & Delivery Pillars

Three complementary research and delivery pillars are proposed to deliver these outcomes:

Support for the development and release of farmer-preferred varieties in the priority legume crop x geography set identified by the BMGF Legume Strategy. These include cowpea and groundnut in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria; common bean and chickpea in Ethiopia; common bean and groundnut in Uganda and Tanzania; and chickpea in Uttar Pradesh, India;

Strengthening of the legume breeding capacity of the partner CGIAR centers (ICRISAT, IITA and CIAT) African stations (Nigeria, Mali, Uganda, Malawi), and national partners through a formal and structured assessment and improvement process, to enhance their capacity to deliver improved cultivars beyond the timeframe of the project; and

Establishing of sustainable seed delivery systems that service the needs of small-holders, especially underserved women farmers in the African partner geographies. Seed delivery platforms, personnel and targets have been or will be established for each priority legume crop and country.

 Pillar 1: Developing Improved Varieties

Productivity of the focus legume crops are significantly depressed by biotic and abiotic stresses whose effects can be mitigated by the development and deployment of resistant varieties. Deployment of resistant varieties is a preferred strategy to mitigate key production constraints of staple crops grown by smallholders as the benefits are delivered through the seed, making mitigation cost effective and not dependent on input use (recognizing that input use with improved varieties can give more than additive total benefits and important component of increasing productivity) read more

 Pillar 2: Improving Breeding Program Capacity of CGIAR African-based and NARS partner legume breeding programs

Substantial progress leading to the adoption of modern breeding tools and approaches was made in all the CGIAR legume breeding programs during the second phase of the TL-II project. As such, project scientists believe that now is the time to move from piloting modern breeding approaches at the CGIAR headquarters in a few populations to institutionalizing modern legume breeding at the African hubs of these institutions and at the NARS partner institutions-so that African farmers are able to more completely leverage the advances brought by these technologies. These programs need to be able to efficiently deliver varieties that are continuously improved over their predecessors in a timely fashion so that genetic gains are realized as present varieties are periodically swapped out for new. For many of the target programs, we hypothesize that significant gains in overall effectiveness can be rendered by adopting breeding ‘best practices’ as these have evolved in the industry, such that significant increase in throughput of the breeding programs can be realized with very limited additional cost. Thus we expect that metrics like numbers of crosses made, numbers of plots assessed, and measures of precision/repeatability can be doubled in most of the partner programs read more

 Pillar 3: Seed Delivery

Project stakeholders are in agreement that the successful seed delivery models used in the TL-II warrant additional investment and expansion to all project crops and promoted more broadly under TL-III. During the second phase of TL-II, breeding targets and detailed seed production plans were drawn up for each partner country (Country Strategies and Seed Roadmaps). A key component of this effort was to identify the best possible partners for the job and to determine the amounts of foundation seed needed to reach the project’s overall goal of producing 20% of each partner’s estimated national need for improved seed of that crop. These targets will be substantially increased in 2015 and 2016 in the countries where BMGF is planning to invest in integrated seed sector development (ISSD). In each of those countries (Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana), TL-III seed initiatives will complement those of ISSD by ramping up the production of foundation seed to meet increased demand by ISSD partners in their efforts to promote production and delivery of certified and quality declared seed. The TL-III will also support the efforts of the new USAID Seed Scaling Initiatives for cowpea and groundnut in West Africa and help AGRA/PASS-supported seed companies to commercialize legume seed production (The TL-II has already helped 45 of these companies to initiate legume seed production). In areas where such programs are not yet operational, TL-III staff will continue to support different seed delivery partners as was done under the TL-II project, principally non-governmental organizations and private sector and government seed producers (see Buruchara et al 2011 and Chirwa et al 2007) read more