Agriculture – the backbone of most African economies – provides 60% of all employment and supports 70−80% of the populations in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). ICRISAT-ESA’s research strategy has three regional programs on genetic resources enhancement and management; agricultural diversifi cation and agro-ecosystem sustainability; and improving markets, policies and institutions. These programs are designed to address the various challenges in the region such as low productivity, poor market access, weak national capacities, and a lack of enabling policies and institutions. The six stories in this 2008 Annual Report have their roots in at least one of the three regional programs. The new medium-duration varieties of pigeonpea in Malawi demonstrate the need for breeding solutions that take into account cultural practices as well as agro-ecological variations within a country and dryland areas of ESA. Understanding the passage of chickpea from the farmers’ fi elds to the consumer overseas provides new insight into the various links and relationships that constitute markets\ud in Ethiopia. The infl uence of government policies on the seed sector is revealed in a story on Malawi’s subsidy program. New technologies must fi rst be tested and the associated risk evaluated before they are released. ICRISAT’s work on assessing genefl ow in sorghum contributes to a global initiative to boost nutritional security through biofortifi cation. The development and adoption of new technologies require new partnerships and new approaches. The last two stories describe ICRISAT’s changing relationship with the national meteorological services as well as a new approach to promote technology adoption in the\ud region
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