|SPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 62 (CTA Spore, 1996, 16 p.)|
The Sahelian Centre, in Niamey, Niger, is ICRISAT's principal research base for the Sahelian region of West Africa. The primary areas of focus at ISC are the improvement of pearl millet, the area's principal crop, and the development of farming systems suited to sustainable agriculture in the harsh conditions of the semi-arid tropics (SAT). ISC also serves as an administrative centre for ICRISAT's Western and Central African Region which includes two smaller research stations, in Mali and Nigeria, where research focuses on sorghum and groundnut.
The objectives of ICRISAT's programmes at the Sahelian Center are:
· to serve as a regional center for the improvement of grain yield and quality in pearl millet
· to develop improved and sustainable farming systems that will help to increase and stabilize agricultural production through more effective use of natural and human resources in the Sahelian zone
· to identify constraints to sustainable agriculture in the West African SAT and evaluate means of alleviating them through technological, institutional and policy changes, and
· to assist in the development and transfer of technology to the farmer through cooperation with national and regional research programmes and networks by sponsoring workshops, conferences, and training programmes; and by assisting in extension activities.
Research at ISC
The pearl millet improvement team at ISC is involved in the incorporation of resistances to yieldreducing abiotic and biotic stress factors and the development of adapted varieties and improved genetic material with high and stable yield. The outputs screening techniques, improved genetic material and varieties, integrated pest management techniques, research information, human resource development - are all available to National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS).
The programme to improve the management of farming systems aims to promote more sustainable exploitation of natural resources while satisfying food and feed needs. Part c of this work involves ' identifying constraints to sustainable agriculture and evaluating options for alleviating them through technological, institutional and policy changes. Other activities at ISC include an infrastructure for backstopping research in NARS with modern facilities and internationally recruited experts in statistics, training, and information. ISC scientists have introduced mapping techniques of benefit to the NARS with their work in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial photography using remote control.
ISC collaborates with several other international research centres with an interest in Sahelian agriculture: the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Live stock Research Institute (ILRI), and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPRGI). In addition, ISC hosts the West and Central African Millet Research Network (WCAMRN) and is the convening centre for the recently formed eco-regional Desert Margins Initiative (DMI). The West and Central African Sorghum Research Network (WCASRN) is located at the ICRISAT Mali office in Samanko. The contributions of these organizations allow an effective integrated approach to research. ISC's field and laboratory facilities include 220 ha of plots suitable for experiments with plants and animals, plant and soil laboratories, crop drying facilities for assessing the feeding values of forages and conducting in-depth investigations on nutrient cycling, short- and long-term seed storage, and a tree nursery
The unique intercenter collaboration at ISC also facilitates: improved zonal research coordination and the identification of research issues of mutual interest through ongoing work with the NARS; training of national technicians and scientists through short- and long-term courses by providing financial assistance, technical guidance, and research facilities for graduate students; information dissemination through conferences, workshops and training courses. ·
ICRlSAT Sahelian Center BP 12404, Niamey NIGER Tel +227 722529, 722626 Fax +227 734329 E-mail ICRISATSC@CGNETCOM