Haussmann B.I.G.,University of Hohenheim |
Haussmann B.I.G.,International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics ICRISAT |
Fred Rattunde H.,ICRISAT |
Weltzien-Rattunde E.,ICRISAT |
And 3 more authors.
Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science | Year: 2012
Semi-arid and subhumid West Africa is characterized by high inter-annual rainfall variability, with variable onset of the rainy season, somewhat more predictable endings, and drought or excess water occurrence at any time during the growing season. Climate change is predicted to increase this variability. This article summarizes options for plant breeders to enhance the adaptation of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R. Br.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench) to climate variability in West Africa. Developing variety types with high degrees of heterozygosity and genetic heterogeneity for adaptation traits helps achieving better individual and population buffering capacity. Traits that potentially enhance adaptive phenotypic plasticity or yield stability in variable climates include photoperiod-sensitive flowering, plastic tillering, flooding tolerance, seedling heat tolerance and phosphorus efficiency. Farmer-participatory dynamic gene pool management using broad-based populations and diverse selection environments is useful to develop new diverse germplasm adapted to specific production constraints including climate variability. For sustainable productivity increase, improved cultivars should respond to farmer-adoptable soil fertility management and water harvesting techniques. Larger-scale, on-farm participatory testing will enable assessments of varietal performance under evolving climatic variability, provide perspective on needs and opportunities and enhance adoption. Strengthening seed systems will be required to achieve sustainable impacts. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
News Article | February 15, 2017
A Forgotten Group Of Grains Might Help Indian Farmers – And Improve Diets, Too Getting people to change what they eat is tough. Changing a whole farming system is even tougher. The southern Indian state of Karnataka is quietly trying to do both, with a group of cereals that was once a staple in the state: millet. Until about 40 years ago, like most of India, the people of Karnataka regularly ate a variety of millets, from finger millet (or ragi) to foxtail millet. They made rotis with it, ate it with rice, and slurped it up at breakfast as porridge. In the sixties, the Green Revolution – a national program that led to the widespread use of high yielding crop varieties, irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides – led to a dramatic increase in food grain production in India. But it also focused on two main crops – rice and wheat – which guzzle water. "Crops that survived on rain rather than irrigation, and were far more sustainable, were forgotten," explains Dinesh Kumar, who runs Earth 360, a non-profit organization in the neighboring southern state of Andhra Pradesh that helps popularize millets and train farmers to grow them. "Millets began to be seen as food for the poor," says Kumar. "Rice was aspirational. White became right, brown became wrong." These days, millets are used mostly for animal fodder. Now, after nearly four decades of intensive farming (and growing urban populations which use a lot of water), most of India is facing severe water crises. So, many states are trying to come up with a more sustainable way to farm. And Karnataka is leading the way with its efforts with millets. There are many factors that make millets more sustainable as crops. Compare the amount of water needed to grow rice with that for millets. One rice plant requires nearly 2.5 times the amount of water required by a single millet plant of most varieties, according to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid (ICRISAT), a global research organization helping to make millets more popular. That's why millets are primarily grown in arid regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Millets can also withstand higher temperatures. "Crops like rice and wheat cannot tolerate temperatures more than 38 degrees Centigrade (100.4 Fahrenheit), while millets can tolerate temperatures of more than 46 degrees C (115 F)," says S.K Gupta, the principal scientist at the pearl millet breeding program at ICRISAT. "They can also grow in saline soil." Millets could therefore be an important solution for farmers grappling with climate change – sea level rise (which can cause soil salinity to increase), heat waves, droughts and floods. Millets are also more nutritious than rice or wheat. They are rich in protein, fibers and micronutrients like iron, zinc and calcium, and thus hold immense promise for India's malnourished, especially those with micronutrient deficiencies. Millets have a lower glycemic index (a measure of how fast our body converts food into sugar) than rice, which is thought to be one of the main factors contributing to the rise in rates of diabetes in India. Some scientists think eating millets could help Indians reduce their risk of this disease. Switching to millets then should be easy. Or is it? A massive hurdle is that crops like rice, wheat and sugarcane are still way more profitable. "Unless millets match up to other crops, we can't force farmers to grow them," says Krishna Byre Gowda, Karnataka's Minister for Agriculture. "We are not trying to replace rice or wheat entirely. We are simply trying to supplement them with more sustainable crops." To make millets more attractive, his government has introduced a series of incentives. It offers farmers more than the minimum support price it pays for other crops, gives subsidies on seeds, and has made millets a part of the public distribution system: a country wide network that distributes cheap grains to the poor. There's much lost ground to make up, because millets still don't have an efficient value chain. "Millets are coarse and need more processing than other crops, but the machines for these have not reached the farmer yet, and thus production remains low," says Gupta. Narasimha Reddy, a farmer on the outskirts of Bangalore, recently switched from growing maize to ragi. "Ragi is much hardier than maize; it can endure for a month without any water," he says. Many farmers in his area are switching back to maize, because ragi costs far more to harvest, but Reddy plans to continue growing ragi. "Demand is slowly picking up in the city, and I think it will improve further now people know of the health benefits," he says. "There's no choice but to grow ragi if water levels deplete further. But we need more machines for quick harvesting, and better quality seeds." The state government has partnered with research institutions to develop higher yield seeds and better ways to process seeds. All this is in line with recommendations made by a recent report by the Global Panel On Agriculture and Food Systems Nutrition, which found that people's diets are worsening as countries like India urbanize. That's because it is now easier and more affordable to buy unhealthy, processed foods and sodas than healthy foods. The authors of the report recommend that countries should invest more money into making healthy foods like millets, fruits and vegetables more affordable and easily available, rather than rice and wheat. "More and more villagers are migrating to the cities in search of work," says Gupta. "When they do, they lose their traditional food habits. We need to give those back to them." But it may be impossible to bring back traditional millet-based foods that have fallen out of fashion. "You can't force people to go back to the food habits of their grandfathers – rotis, ragi balls and so forth – but you can get them to eat millet foods in tune with their new eating habits: breakfast cereals, cakes, pasta, baked products and ready to cook products," says Byregowda. The government is partnering with research institutions and food companies to develop new food products. It is introducing these products at fairs, where the public is also educated about the benefits of eating millets. At a recent fair, products displayed included everything from millet pastas, chips and cakes to more traditional Indian dishes. Meanwhile, many hotels have introduced millets in breakfast buffets, millet pizzas, and millet biryanis. The government is also approaching influencers – food writers, chefs, doctors, and the media – to help sell millet to the newly affluent, quinoa- and chia-seed-eating, health conscious Indian customer. "If you can eat imported quinoa, why can't you eat millet?" asks Joanna Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT's director of communications. Why not indeed? As a child I used to eat ragi porridge, but I haven't eaten it in decades. So I try some new millet products to reacquaint myself with the grain. A ragi cereal turned out to be about as edible as pulverized doormats. But another product from the same company, chocolate ragi puffs, was almost as good as Kelloggs's Cocopops, if still heavy on the sugar. Ragi digestive cookies from a big company were too chewy, but those from a small neighborhood bakery turned out to be surprisingly good and child-pleasing. A couple of handfuls of ragi batter in dosas (Indian style rice pancakes) was almost indistinguishable in taste, and I threw some into banana bread with the same result. For most of us, returning to millets may involve some trial and error. But as Kumar points out, even a few handfuls of millet in your everyday foods is better for you than none. Besides, by 2050, India will need to feed 1.7 billion people. And millets could help make that happen.
News Article | March 23, 2016
In truth, the farmer from Gavu, a village in arid Hwange District, about 450 km north of Bulawayo, can't control the weather. But he can predict it fairly accurately. Using a well-worn record book, a green plastic rain gauge, and a mobile phone on which he receives climate-related information via SMS, Tshuma makes farming decisions based on the weather patterns in his area, including when to plant, how to till the soil and how much fertilizer to apply. Tshuma is one of a thousand small-scale farmers in southern Zimbabwe benefiting from a project called Climate Smart Agriculture: Combating the El Niño Phenomenon. Launched in Jambezi ward in 2013, the project is part of the nation's plan to manage threats such as droughts by strengthening systems to provide early warnings about risks to agriculture from climate change and related weather problems. Bringing together the Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and local telecommunications services provider ECONET, the project teaches farmers to use weather-monitoring techniques and climate-smart agriculture practices to maintain food security in rain-scarce parts of the country. Last season, Tshuma and his wife Simnai harvested 1.5 tonnes of millet, one tonne of sorghum, and a quarter tonne of groundnuts. This season he expects to harvest four tonnes of millet and nearly 2.5 tonnes of sorghum, despite a drought that has slashed neighbors' maize harvests. "This year … I have done so much better in my fields than some of my neighbors that some people say I am irrigating my crops or I have goblins who work magic. But that is not true,” Tshuma said. With $30,000 of funding from ICRISAT, the project teaches techniques to help farmers improve their harvests while cutting their costs. Those includes mulching fields to save water, planting crops in dug-out basins filled with manure, planting different types of crops together in a field and using fertilizer in small doses just where it is needed. It also aims to convince farmers to swap their traditional crops for more drought-tolerant ones, no easy feat in a region where maize is a diet staple. "Sorghum and millet are not only climate smart but nutritionally smart. We call them smart foods because they are good for us, good for the environment and good for smallholder farmers to manage climate change, diversify their income and increase their profitability," said David Bergvinson, ICRISAT’s director general. Switching to more resilient crops is crucial because “climate change is hitting us hard and fast,” he said. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, climate-smart agriculture can help farmers produce more and become more resilient to shocks, boosting food security even as climate change-related extreme weather strengthens. The practices and techniques the project promotes are part of Zimbabwe’s plan to deal with climate change, submitted as part of a new global climate deal agreed in Paris last December. The current El Niño-induced drought in Zimbabwe is one of the worst the country has seen in a quarter century. More than 3 million Zimbabweans are facing hunger due to a maize shortfall of more than 1 million tonnes, about half of what the country requires each year. Zimbabwe has been forced to declare a state of national disaster and is appealing for $1.6 billion in food aid. A recent study by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security says global warming will continue to affect staple food crops like bananas, maize and beans in sub-Saharan Africa unless farmers learn to adapt. According to the study, 30 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's maize-growing areas, including in Zimbabwe, need to switch to different crops within the next decade. "Climate change is reducing the viability of maize production and, increasingly, we are envisaging that semi-arid regions of Zimbabwe could only be growing drought-tolerant grains in the near future," Danisile Hikwa, principal director of the agriculture ministry's Department of Research and Specialist Services, told farmers in Hwange District recently. In Gavu, Tshuma has already seen the benefits of changing what and how he farms. After joining the agriculture adaptation project when it first started three years ago, he now earns an average of $300 per season from selling his farm crops once he has fed his family. He has cut back on growing maize and now harvests enough sorghum and millet to sell to his neighbors and to a Jambezi small grain processing plant, run by an association of farmers that grow, process, and markets products made from drought-tolerant crops. Tshuma is so convinced about the need to adapt that he is mentoring 20 farmers through one of 50 climate field schools run jointly by ICRISAT and AGRITEX in Hwange District. He admits some of his neighbors have been reluctant to adopt the changes, particularly the labor involved in digging basins. But his success is winning them over, he said. "Millet and sorghum are the crops for survival in this time of drought," he said. "Farmers have to work hard to survive - it is not magic."
News Article | December 2, 2016
ITHACA, NY--Crop breeders in developing countries can now access free tools to accelerate the breeding of improved crops varieties, thanks to a collaboration between the GOBII project at Cornell University and the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), and the James Hutton Institute in Scotland. The collaboration works with breeding centers around the world to identify unmet needs and has developed tools to make the process of adding a trait into an existing, high-yield crop variety more efficient. Researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are using the tools to develop corn varieties with greater resistance to viruses. Researchers at GOBII, the Genomic and Open-source Breeding Informatics Initiative, worked with developers from the Hutton Institute to build upon the existing data visualization application, Flapjack. Its new tools enable breeders to select the best possible parental lines and help users to perform marker-assisted backcrossing (MABC)--a process that involves repeated breeding with the high-yield parent to ensure that only the desired genes are transferred. Researchers estimate that they can cut a year or two from the four or five years required to develop a new variety. "We have been delighted with this early success of our joint work with the GOBII team at Cornell and anticipate it will form the foundation of a mutually valuable partnership," said David Marshall of the Hutton Institute. Previously, these types of molecular breeding tools only existed within biotech companies. But GOBII, a Cornell-led project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is tailoring these free tools for breeders in developing countries. They are building data management software in collaboration with the international crops research centers ICRISAT in India, CIMMYT in Mexico and IRRI in the Philippines. "Having the right data management systems and analysis tools can have a huge impact on crop improvement. Breeders can manage their programs more efficiently, make better selection decisions, and potentially reduce labor and land costs," said Elizabeth Jones, project manager of GOBII. Michael Olsen, a molecular geneticist at CIMMYT, is test-driving the tools in his work to develop lines of corn that are resistant to maize lethal necrosis, a disease that has devastated corn crops in Kenya. Olsen's research involves 43 separate breeding crosses, bred over five generations.The new tools help him to visualize the relevant genes and identify donor strains that are most likely to successfully interbreed. "The recently released MABC tool developed by JHI with input from the GOBII project was a tremendous time saver this past cycle," said Olsen. "The tool is very well designed for an applied breeding program conducting MABC projects." Next, GOBII will conduct training sessions for the tools at breeding centers in India, Africa, Mexico, the Philippines and at Cornell. The tools can be used to improve any trait in any crop plant. Anyone interested in attending training for these tools or who has questions regarding their use can contact project manager Elizabeth Jones at email@example.com. To learn more about Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) research, visit the BTI website at http://bti. . Connect online with BTI at http://www. and http://www. . Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health. BTI employs 150 staff, with scientists from 40 countries around the world and has twice been named as one of the Best Companies in New York State. Its 15 principal investigators are leading minds in plant development, chemical ecology, microbiology and plant pathology, and have access to the institute's state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities with computerized controls and a system of integrated pest management. BTI has one of the largest concentrations of plant bioinformaticists in the U.S., with researchers who work across the entire spectrum of "omics" fields. BTI researchers consistently receive funding from NSF, NIH, USDA and DOE and publish in top tier journals. Throughout its work, BTI is committed to inspiring and educating students and to providing advanced training for the next generation of scientists. For more information, visit http://www. .
News Article | December 2, 2016
The collaboration works with breeding centers around the world to identify unmet needs and has developed tools to make the process of adding a trait into an existing, high-yield crop variety more efficient. Researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are using the tools to develop corn varieties with greater resistance to viruses. Researchers at GOBII, the Genomic and Open-source Breeding Informatics Initiative, worked with developers from the Hutton Institute to build upon the existing data visualization application, Flapjack. Its new tools enable breeders to select the best possible parental lines and help users to perform marker-assisted backcrossing (MABC)—a process that involves repeated breeding with the high-yield parent to ensure that only the desired genes are transferred. Researchers estimate that they can cut a year or two from the four or five years required to develop a new variety. "We have been delighted with this early success of our joint work with the GOBII team at Cornell and anticipate it will form the foundation of a mutually valuable partnership," said David Marshall of the Hutton Institute. Previously, these types of molecular breeding tools only existed within biotech companies. But GOBII, a Cornell-led project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is tailoring these free tools for breeders in developing countries. They are building data management software in collaboration with the international crops research centers ICRISAT in India, CIMMYT in Mexico and IRRI in the Philippines. "Having the right data management systems and analysis tools can have a huge impact on crop improvement. Breeders can manage their programs more efficiently, make better selection decisions, and potentially reduce labor and land costs," said Elizabeth Jones, project manager of GOBII. Michael Olsen, a molecular geneticist at CIMMYT, is test-driving the tools in his work to develop lines of corn that are resistant to maize lethal necrosis, a disease that has devastated corn crops in Kenya. Olsen's research involves 43 separate breeding crosses, bred over five generations.The new tools help him to visualize the relevant genes and identify donor strains that are most likely to successfully interbreed. "The recently released MABC tool developed by JHI with input from the GOBII project was a tremendous time saver this past cycle," said Olsen. "The tool is very well designed for an applied breeding program conducting MABC projects." Next, GOBII will conduct training sessions for the tools at breeding centers in India, Africa, Mexico, the Philippines and at Cornell. The tools can be used to improve any trait in any crop plant. Explore further: Plant breeders take cues from consumers to improve kale
Valbuena D.,Systemwide Livestock Programme |
Erenstein O.,CIMMYT |
Homann-Kee Tui S.,ICRISAT |
Abdoulaye T.,IITA |
And 9 more authors.
Field Crops Research | Year: 2012
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is being advocated to enhance soil health and sustain long term crop productivity in the developing world. One of CA's key principles is the maintenance of soil cover often by retaining a proportion of crop residues on the field as mulch. Yet smallholder crop-livestock systems across Africa and Asia face trade-offs among various options for crop residue use. Knowledge of the potential trade-offs of leaving more residues as mulch is only partial and the objective of this research is to address some of these knowledge gaps by assessing the trade-offs in contrasting settings with mixed crop-livestock systems. The paper draws from village surveys in 12 sites in 9 different countries across Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. Sites were clustered into 3 groups along the combined population and livestock density gradients to assess current crop residue management practices and explore potential challenges to adopting mulching practices in different circumstances. Results show that although high-density sites face higher potential pressure on resources on an area basis, biomass production tends to be more substantial in these sites covering demands for livestock feed and allowing part of the residues to be used as mulch. In medium-density sites, although population and livestock densities are relatively lower, biomass is scarce and pressure on land and feed are high, increasing the pressure on crop residues and their opportunity cost as mulch. In low-density areas, population and livestock densities are relatively low and communal feed and fuel resources exist, resulting in lower potential pressure on residues on an area basis. Yet, biomass production is low and farmers largely rely on crop residues to feed livestock during the long dry season, implying substantial opportunity costs to their use as mulch. Despite its potential benefit for smallholder farmers across the density gradient, the introduction of CA-based mulching practices appears potentially easier in sites where biomass production is high enough to fulfil existing demands for feed and fuel. In sites with relatively high feed and fuel pressure, the eventual introduction of CA needs complementary research and development efforts to increase biomass production and/or develop alternative sources to alleviate the opportunity costs of leaving some crop residues as mulch. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Zezza A.,The World Bank |
Federighi G.,University of Rome Tor Vergata |
Kalilou A.A.,ICRISAT |
Hiernaux P.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Food Policy | Year: 2016
Milk is an important source of cash and nutrients for many households in developing countries. Yet, our understanding of the role of dairy production in livelihoods and nutritional outcomes is hindered by the lack of decent quality household survey data. Data on milk off-take for human consumption are difficult to collect in household surveys for a number of reasons which make accurate recall challenging for the respondent (continuous production and seasonality among others), introducing possibly severe biases in the computation of full household incomes and farm sales, as well as in the estimation of the contribution of livestock (specifically dairy) production to agricultural value added and the livelihoods of rural households.This paper presents results from a validation exercise implemented in Niger, where alternative survey instruments based on recall methods were administered to randomly selected households, and compared to a 12-month system of physical monitoring and recording of milk production. The results of the exercise show that reasonably accurate estimates via recall methods are possible, and provide a clear ranking of questionnaire design options that can inform future survey operations. © 2016 The Authors.
News Article | September 12, 2016
In a world first, under the leadership of University of Western Australia Winthrop Professor Rajeev Varshney, a global team sequenced and identified 50,324 genes in an ancestor of the cultivated peanut, Arachis duranensis. They decoded the peanut DNA to gain an insight into the legume's evolution and identify opportunities for using its genetic variability. Importantly, the researchers have isolated 21 allergen genes, that, when altered, may be able to prevent an allergic response in humans. The last decade has seen an alarming rise in peanut allergies with almost three in every 100 Australian children suffering, and only 20 per cent growing out of the allergy. The allergic reaction of peanuts is caused by specific proteins in its seeds, according to Dr Varshney who is also the Research Program Director at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). "These 21 characterised genes will be useful in breeding to select the superior varieties in the laboratory such as ones that are non-allergenic," Prof Varshney says. They also identified additional genes that would help increase crop productivity and improve peanut nutritional value by altering oil biosynthesis and protein content. Peanuts or groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) are an important global food source and are a staple crop grown in more than 100 countries, with approximately 42 million tonnes produced every year. Originating in South America, humans have cultivated peanuts for more than 7,600 years. With a very high seed oil content of 45–56 per cent, peanut oil contains nearly half of the 13 essential vitamins and 35 per cent of the essential minerals. Peanuts are also associated with several human health benefits, and have been found to improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and control blood sugar levels. "This genome sequence has helped to identify genes related to resistance to different diseases, tolerance to abiotic stresses and yield-related traits," Prof Varshney says. "By using this 'molecular breeding' approach, we can also accelerate the breeding process, and generate superior varieties in 3–5 years compared to traditional breeding that takes 6–10 years." Prof Varshney says genomics-assisted breeding is a non-GMO or 'non-transgenic' approach. "This is basically a simple breeding process that uses the molecular markers/genes to select the lines in the breeding, and farmers have been growing such varieties for many crops all around the world," Prof Varshney says.
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2011
Pigeonpea is an important multi-use shrub legume for the tropics and subtropics. Widely grown for its grain, it is also grown as a vegetable for some of the poorest regions of the world. In recent years, a number of improved cultivars of pigeonpea have been released and are being disseminated to increase productivity. ICRISAT has been particularly instrumental in developing and releasing improved cultivars of pigeonpea in Malawi which include two of long duration type ('ICP 9145' and 'ICEAP 00040') and two of short duration type ('ICPL 93027' and 'ICPL 87105'). Short duration pigeonpea is largely consumed fresh as a vegetable but also fetches good prices on the market. This study examines the relationship between pigeonpea cultivation and poverty using data from the Malawi's second Integrated Household Survey (IHS2) of 2004. A descriptive analysis shows that more nonpigeonpea growers (61%) than growers (55%) earned annual incomes that fell below the poverty line. However, based on such a descriptive analysis it is not possible to capture the intrinsic impact of pigeonpea on poverty due to problems of selection bias, as well as that of non-compliance. Results based on the counterfactual outcome framework which corrects for the bias (selection, and non-compliance) reveal that the cultivation of pigeonpea reduces the propensity to be poor by 40%. Furthermore, the fact that more female-headed households (24%) than male-headed households (20%) grew the crop, suggests that pigeonpea can be a strategic crop for reducing poverty among female-headed households and hence contribute towards achieving the millennium development goals on poverty.
Whitbread A.M.,CSIRO |
Robertson M.J.,CSIRO |
Carberry P.S.,CSIRO |
European Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2010
Over the past 20 years, farming systems modelling has become an accessible tool for developing intervention strategies targeted at smallholder farmers in southern Africa. Applying the Agricultural Productions Systems sIMulator (APSIM) to credibly simulate key soil and crop processes in highly constrained, low yielding maize/legume systems has led to four distinct modes of use: (i) to add value to field experimentation and demonstration; (ii) in direct engagement with farmers; (iii) to explore key system constraints and opportunities with researchers and extension agencies; and (iv) in the generation of information for policy makers, bankers and insurance institutions. Examples of application in each of these modes are presented. Despite being demonstrated as an excellent tool for developing intervention strategies and extension material, the use of simulation is limited by a lack of competent local users. Better co-operation within the simulation community, sharing of climate, soil and crop parameterisation and validation datasets, and focussing of efforts on using models to benefit smallholder farmers are suggested as ways of increasing the use and relevance of simulation. Substantial investment in the training of agriculturalists and the further science development of systems simulation is required to tackle the enormous challenges facing agricultural development in the region. Crown Copyright © 2009.