Biotech Updates

Project to Boost Crop Production in Poor Sub-Saharan Africa and India

October 16, 2009

A new project that aims to increase food security for smallholder farmers in moisture-deficient areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia was launched recently by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The project, Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, is supported by an USD 18 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. HOPE will involve more than 50 organizations from ten countries.

ICRISAT said that the project is expected to benefit 110,000 households in sub-Saharan Africa and 90,000 in South Asia by increasing yields of sorghum and millet by 35 to 40 percent over four years.

"Scientists estimate that yields could be doubled or even tripled from their current low levels if farmers use the right crop varieties, fertilizer and other management techniques. Capturing even a modest portion of these potential gains would generate major impacts in reducing food insecurity," noted William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT. HOPE will provide small scale farmers access to improved seed varieties, farming techniques and information, and fertilizer. The project will also involve capacity building, primarily targeting national program scientists participating in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa's ( AGRA) Program for Africa's Seed System (PASS) program.

The press release is available at