Over 100 individuals gathered in Niamey, Niger, for the SMIL West Africa annual meetings to discuss research, progress and challenges in the West African sorghum and pearl millet value chains. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet (SMIL) is administered at Kansas State University and focuses on improving the adaptation and resilience of sorghum and pearl millet to the semi-arid climates of East and West Africa. After successful review meetings in Ethiopia, these review meetings focused on the West African regions, specifically Niger and Senegal. The SMIL West Africa annual meetings were co-hosted with l’Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN) and included research partners from Ethiopia along with new partners from Madagascar and the research project teams from Burkina Faso, Togo, Haiti, Germany and the United States. Additionally, the research teams were joined by male and female farmers, industry stakeholders, local community leaders and women food business owners.
The interactive, multi-day sessions empowered participants to learn from various research projects. The last day was a combined partnership meeting between SMIL and the McKnight Foundation. Throughout the week, attendees shared information about research findings, seed, genetics, best management practices and even communication strategies for reaching various target audiences. Find the presentations and posters from the meeting here: https://smil.ksu.edu/2023-smil-annual-meeting-westafrica.
Sorghum and pearl millet remain a staple for food and livestock consumption in the Sahel region, and these SMIL-funded projects focused on empowering local research teams, business owners and farmers to identify challenges, work with experts to find effective solutions and enable local leaders to transfer the technology to the local farmers, food producers and grain processors.
Participants returned home filled with ideas, excitement and a renewed sense of passion for supporting their sorghum and pearl millet objectives, and, in turn, supporting smallholder farmers, food business owners and consumers in their home communities.
Many of the team members will reunite at the Global Sorghum Conference in Montpellier, France, in June to continue focusing on cross-cutting ideas, research and technology transfer in the sorghum industry.