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Learning Visit by the Groundnut Improvement Team from Madagascar to the National Groundnut Improvement Programme, NARO Uganda

Introduction:

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut at the University of Georgia an additional $2.5 million to improve food security and nutrition across Africa through peanut/groundnut to Madagascar after approval of the project by the USAID mission in Madagascar. The project in partnership with the Global Collaboration on Sorghum and Millet at Kansas State University on a resilient rotation of peanut, sorghum and millet is expected to improve soil conditions, make farms more productive, feed people and protect the natural environment in Madagascar.

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut therefore planned learning visits by a team of the National Groundnut Improvement Programme from the National Research Centre for Applied Research for Rural Development (FOFIFA/APEMBA), Madagascar (Allain Ranivomanana and Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and, Mamadou Alpha Thiam, the project manager for Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut in Madagascar) between 11 – 15 December 2023 to the National Groundnut Improvement Programme based at the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute, Serere, Uganda.

The learning visit aimed to enable the groundnut improvement team from Madagascar to understand all the key activities that are undertaken throughout the groundnut breeding pipelines in Uganda, key challenges faced by the team in Uganda during the groundnut improvement process, identify areas for tapping opportunities and improvement as per the challenges identified and after that be able to apply them in Madagascar in fulfilment of the Groundnut Improvement Network for Africa (GINA) target of achieving food and nutrition security in Africa through germplasm exchange, development, strengthening collaboration and networking.

A visit to Nakabango Technology Verification Centre, Jinja.

Nakabango Technology Verification Centre in Jinja is currently the hottest known spot for groundnut rosette virus disease in Africa and Uganda’s leafspot diseases. The Centre is being used for screening germplasms from entire Africa for the groundnut rosette virus disease and any germplasm that survives there survives anywhere in the world. The team were impressed to see the different types of rosette virus disease symptoms (chlorotic and green rosette symptoms). They admired the various groundnut varieties and genotypes with high levels of resistance to the disease despite their closeness to the susceptible ones.

Left – Right: Mamadou Alpha Thiam, Allain Ranivomanana, Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and, Dr. Kalule Okello David (Project leader National Groundnut Improvement, Uganda) at Nakabango Technology Verification Centre, Jinja during the learning visit.

The team from Madagascar looked at both chlorotic and green rosetted groundnut plants during a visit to Nakabango Technology Verification Centre, Jinja.

Mr. Owiny Ronald, the Research Associate for the National Groundnut Improvement Programme, Uganda took the visitors through how the Ugandan groundnut improvement programme has fully digitized its breeding activities using hand-held devices such as tablets with the Fieldbook application installed. The trial manager for the Centre and the groundnut improvement team collects data using the Fieldbook application and uploads them to the Breeding Management System (BMS) cloud that has been adopted by the National Agricultural Research Organisation to achieve digitisation of all research activities for excellence in data management, utilisation and data-driven decision making and investments.

On Red Shirt: Owiny Ronald, Research Associate demonstrating how the Fieldbook application is used in digitized data collection at Nakabango Technology Verification Centre, Jinja during the learning visit by a team from Madagascar.

Overview of groundnut Research in Uganda, Tour of Glasshouse, Experimental and Bulking plots, Tour of the Seed Multiplication plots and Hybridization (Emasculation)

Curtesy’s visit to the Director National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute, Serere was made by both the Madagascar and NaSARRI team (Mamadou Alpha Thiam, Allain Ranivomanana, Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao from Madagascar and Owiny Ronald, Achola Esther, PhD student and Dr. Kalule Okello David the leader groundnut improvement programme and acting Director).

Overview of Groundnut Research in Uganda: This session was led by Dr. Kalule Okello David on behalf of the National Groundnut Improvement team at the NaSARRI board room. The aim was to give a general understanding of the National Groundnut Improvement Programme to the team from Madagascar before other planned activities could continue.

 

Tour of Glasshouse, Experimental and Bulking plots and tour of the Seed Multiplication plots were done afterwards. The team from Madagascar were impressed to see what was taking place in Uganda.

Right: Dr. Kalule Okello David, Groundnut Breeder taking the team from Madagascar through the glasshouse where germplasm improvement starts.

The team from Madagascar during a visit to the groundnut experimental block at NaSARRI, Serere during a learning visit to NaSARRI, Serere, Uganda.

Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao was quoted saying ‘the groundnut improvement programme for Uganda is far ahead and is of high standards compared to other groundnut improvement programmes I have ever seen in Africa. This excellent work’

The team applauded the groundnut improvement team in Uganda for the excellent work they are doing throughout the pipeline.

Allain Ranivomanana encouraged the team to continue with the good work even when faced with tough challenges such as inconsistent rainfall which affected germination in the seed multiplication plots for the season 2023B.

Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and Allain Ranivomanana were taken through the process of hybridization/emasculation/making crosses in the glasshouse by the personnel in charge, Beatrice Hellen Apenyo. The two scientists from Madagascar quickly learned the steps and even practically made crosses themselves in the glasshouse with lots of happiness and joy.

The team from Madagascar is learning how to do hybridization/making crosses in the glasshouse with support from the technical personnel, Beatrice Hellen Apenyo during the learning visit at NaSARRI, Serere.

The team from Madagascar is learning how to do hybridization/making crosses in the glasshouse with support from the technical personnel, Beatrice Hellen Apenyo during the learning visit at NaSARRI, Serere.

Introductory BMS, Experimental field visit and Practical Data collection and Hands-on with HTP and other gadgets, shellers

A brief Introduction to the Breeding Management System (BMS) was done by Esther Achola, PhD student under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut. This was to enable the Madagascar team to understand how crosses are made using the BMS, how experiments are designed and generated in the BMS and how the groundnut improvement programme manages its inventory using the BMS. Data upload from the Fieldbook application was also demonstrated to the team.

Experimental visits and practical data collection sessions were led by Owiny Ronald, the Research Associate and team leader for BMS, NaSARRI. Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and Allain Ranivomanana practically learned data collection using the Fieldbook application installed in the tablet as per the experimental design of selected trials at NaSARRI, Serere.

The use of High-throughput (HTP) gadgets such as the green seeker, and the infrared camera was demonstrated to Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and Allain Ranivomanana by Ivan Chapu, PhD student under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut.

Middle: Randrianarisoa Mina Tsiriarijao and Allain Ranivomanana were taken through the Fieldbook application by Owiny Ronald during the practical session of data collection.

The groundnut improvement team demonstrated how the manual and mechanical groundnut shellers, manual winnower and seed grader work to the team from Madagascar during the learning visit to NaSARRI, Serere.

Samples display, Visit to a local farmer in Serere District, Recap of the visit, sharing experiences and Questions

The sample display was led by Owiny Ronald, Esther Achola and Namutosi Pamela.

Left: Esther Achola, PhD student takes the Madagascar team through the display of the samples during the learning visit to NaSARRI.

The seeds and pods of the flagship groundnut varieties such as Serenut 8R, 9T, 11T, 14R and Naronut 1R and 2T and other old varieties such as Redbeauty and Acholiwhite were displayed during the session. Also, the seeds, pods and whole harvested and dried plants for the pre-releases (SGV 990400, SGV 0805 and SGV 10010 ER) were displayed during the session.

Others included value-added products for all the flagship varieties and pre-releases (as mentioned above) in beautifully sealed glass cans by Ivory Organics, a processor based in Kampala. Their value-added groundnut products include peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, sesenut (groundnut mixed with sesame).

Visit to Mr Ochung Martine, a local groundnut farmer in Serere district led by Dr Kalule Okello David to Okulonyo village, Serere District. The team started from the groundnut field where he planted his Serenut 14R groundnut variety for season 2023B. His major challenges are weeds and rodents that affect his groundnuts from the field. The team made a journey to his home which was specially received by family members. It was an interesting visit and experience for the Madagascar team. The farmer narrated his painful sweet journey in life before he started engaging in improved groundnut seed production with full support from Dr. Kalule Okello David. He has been able to support his family by sending his children to good boarding schools, started a business, constructed a beautiful residential house and commercial house in Serere Town Council, and is expanding his multiplication of improved groundnut seeds for Serenut 14R, 11T and SGV 990400 pre-released material.

 

A visit to the groundnut field belonging to Mr. Ochung Martine and a Home visit by both teams from Madagascar and NaSARRI during the learning visit.

Brief Message from the Dryland Cereals Research Programme Representative: Mrs. Eres Kutesa Awori, PhD student.

The Dryland research programme has three crops: sorghum, finger millet and pearl millet.

Sorghum: Lots of research is focusing on various pipelines for brewing quality, food nutrition and feeds.

Major pests (such as stem borers, gall midge).

PhD studentship focuses on biomass yield, protein, calcium, cyanide and other nutrient components.

Millet (finger millet and pearl millet): Major research pipelines focus on drought tolerance, blast resistance, striga resistance and nutrition, all having students attached to and currently conducting research with support from Feed the Future Sorghum and Finger Millet Innovation Lab.

Recommendations:

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut should plan for other learning visits for the technicians from Madagascar to Uganda and technicians from Uganda to have learning experiences in Madagascar.

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut to include studentship opportunities in Madagascar to groom graduates who shall boost research on peanuts in the country.

Germplasm exchange between Madagascar and Uganda should be established and strengthened with support from the Groundnut Improvement Network for Africa (GINA).

Conclusion:

The learning visit by the Madagascar team was productive. It has established a good start for the Madagascar team to start engaging in their national groundnut improvement programme with continuous support from the Ugandan national groundnut improvement programme.

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