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Bamako, Mali

Anitha S.,Indian International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics | Raghunadharao D.,Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences | Waliyar F.,ICRISAT | Sudini H.,Indian International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics | And 3 more authors.
Mutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis | Year: 2014

Aflatoxin B1 is a carcinogen produced by Aspergillus flavus and a few related fungi that are often present in many food substances. It interacts synergistically with Hepatitis B or C virus (HBV, HBC) infection, thereby increasing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The G to T transversion at the third position of codon 249 (AGG) of the TP53 gene, substituting arginine to serine, is the most common aflatoxin-induced mutation linked to HCC. This study examined mutations in TP53 by PCR-RFLP analysis and by measurement of an aflatoxin-albumin adduct as a biomarker for human exposure of aflatoxin B1 by indirect-competitive ELISA, in samples collected from healthy controls as well as patients with hepatitis in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. A total of 238 blood samples were analyzed the presence of the G to T mutation. Eighteen of these samples were from HBV-positive subjects, 112 of these were from subjects who had HBV-induced liver cirrhosis, and 108 samples were taken from subjects without HBV infection or liver cirrhosis (control group). The G to T mutation was detected in 10 samples, 8 of which were from subjects positive to both HBV and aflatoxin-albumin adduct in blood (p= 0.07); whilst two were from individuals who were HBV-negative, but positive for the aflatoxin-albumin adduct (p= 0.14). The aflatoxin-albumin adduct was detected in 37 of 238 samples, 29 samples were from HBV-positive subjects and eight were from individuals who were positive for both HBV and the TP53 mutation (p= 0.07). The concentration of aflatoxin-albumin adduct ranged from 2.5 to 667. pg/mg albumin. Despite low incidence of the G to T mutation, its detection in subjects positive to aflatoxin-adducts is indicative of a strong association between the mutation and aflatoxin exposure in India. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Simtowe F.,ICRISAT
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. Source

Whitbread A.M.,CSIRO | Robertson M.J.,CSIRO | Carberry P.S.,CSIRO | Dimes J.P.,ICRISAT
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. Source

Valbuena D.,System Wide Livestock Programme | Valbuena D.,Wageningen University | Tui S.H.K.,ICRISAT | Erenstein O.,CIMMYT | And 7 more authors.
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2015

Crop residues (CR) have become a limited resource in mixed crop-livestock farms. As a result of the increasing demand and low availability of alternative resources, CR became an essential resource for household activities, especially for livestock keeping; a major livelihood element of smallholder farmers in the developing world. Farmers' decisions on CR use are determined by farmers' preferences, total crop production, availability of alternative resources and demand for CR. Interaction of these determinants can result in pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Determinants, pressures and trade-offs are shaped by the specific socio-economic and agro-ecological context of these mixed farms. The objective of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of the determinants of CR use and to examine some options to cope with pressures and trade-offs in 12 study sites across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Drawing on socio-economic data at household and village level, we describe how cereal intensification and livestock feed demand influence use, pressures and trade-offs of CR use across study sites, specifically cereal residue. Our results show that in low cereal production and livestock feed demand sites, despite a low demand for CR and availability of alternative biomass, pressures and trade-offs of CR use are common particularly in the dry season. In sites with moderate cereal production, and low-moderate and moderate livestock feed demand, alternative biomass resources are scarce and most residues are fed to livestock or used to cover household needs. Subsequently, pressures and potential trade-offs are stronger. In sites with low cereal production and high livestock feed demand, pressures and trade-offs depend on the availability of better feed resources. Finally, sites with high cereal production and high livestock feed demand have been able to fulfil most of the demand for CR, limiting pressures and trade-offs. These patterns show that agricultural intensification, better management of communal resources and off-farm activities are plausible development pathways to overcome pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Although technologies can largely improve these trends, research and development should revisit past initiatives so as to develop innovative approaches to tackle the well-known problem of low agricultural production in many smallholder mixed systems, creating more sustainable futures. © 2014 The Authors. Source

News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

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."

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