Promotion of promising "orphan crops"
We have introduced improved crop-production technologies to farmers through support and guidance to National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), frequently in a triple alliance with IARCs. We paid particular attention to cereals (maize and rice) and various food legumes, including soybean.
Activity 101.1: We provided support and guidance to the fledgling Food Legume and Coarse Grain Network of Asia (FLCGNET), which involves 14 countries. Through a letter of agreement, we transferred funds to the Networks Coordination Centre in Bogor, Indonesia, to support communications needs.
Activity 101.2: (Related to activity 101.1) We gave special support to TAMNET (Tropical Asian Maize Network), the component on maize improvement, an expanded working group of the FLCGNET. We provided funds to support a reporting and planning meeting held in India.
Activity 101.3: We carried out pilot testing and demonstration of improved highland cereal/legume production systems, primarily in Asia and Central America, in cooperation with CIMMYT and other partners; in a linked activity with AGLS and NARS, we were involved in projects in the Philippines, Thailand, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti. (Note: budget cuts in 1996 resulted in postponement of this activity to 1997.)
Activity 101.4: We planned to promote demonstrations of winter-sown chickpea technology packages for five countries in Western Asia/North Africa (WANA) in a cooperative programme with ICARDA. (Note: budget cuts in 1996 resulted in postponement of this activity. However, a jointly formulated project proposal has been submitted to the European Union and to the government of Japan for funding consideration. The proposal will also soon be submitted to the regional office of UNDP for consideration.
Activity 101.5: We worked with the TCO Division of FAO and others to prepare proposals to donors to set up a Global Tropical Soybean Network. Once the network is established, guidance and support will be given to each of the three subregional coordinators and the Global Secretariat.
Activity 101.6: We promoted demonstrations of lowland rice production technologies in Africa as an alternative to low-productivity upland systems. Staff took part in a planning meeting of the African Inland Valley Swamp Consortium coordinated by IITA and WARDA, and we provided modest financial support to help NARS take part. This was carried out in collaboration with FAO's Land and Water Division (AGLW), with FAO's Regional Office for Africa (RAF), with the West African Rice Development Agency (WARDA), with the Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement (CIRAD), and FAO's field projects.
Activity 101.7: We provided support for preliminary studies on yield declines in irrigated rice in several Asian countries: Bangladesh,China, India, Indonesia, and Viet Nam. (linked to PE 150 - International Rice Commission). We also helped with publication of the book "Improved upland rice farming systems" in French. (linked to PE 600 - Crop and Grassland Service Information).
Activity 101.8: In collaboration with the UCL in Belgium and FAO field projects, we gave support for a consultancy to review biofertilizer development in rice fields and multiple use of Azolla in landlocked and fertilzer-deficient countries in Africa, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Zaire.
Activity 101.10: We helped in the transfer of hybrid rice and other 'upstream' rice improvements to NARS in Asia and Latin America through consultancy missions and FAO field projects. Activities have initially been focused on Brazil, Colombia, Bangladesh, India and Viet Nam.
Activity 101.11: We participated in technical steering committees in global and regional crop-improvement conferences and workshops, including:
* World Soybean Research Conference;
* World Cool-Season Food Legumes Conference;
* European Legume Improvement Conference;
* World Lupine Conference;
* Mediterranean Rice Improvement Conference;
* World Dry Bean Improvement Conference;
* Workshop on the Improvement of Malting Barley for Latin America.
Activity 101.12: We support - mainly through staff input on technical issues - FAO's Special Programme on Food Security for Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries. We have been particularly involved in programmes in Burkina Faso, Bolivia, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal and Zambia.