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DG Tom Lumpkin visits CIMMYT’s southern Africa programs

December 4, 2008

From 19-25 November 2008, Lumpkin visited southern Africa to familiarize himself with CIMMYT staff, partners, and activities. The visit began at the regional office in Harare, Zimbabwe, where Lumpkin accompanied by Global Maize Program (GMP) Director Marianne Bänziger, interacted with all staff, and visited the research facilities. Country Liaison Officer Mulugetta Mekuria presented an overview of CIMMYT-Zimbabwe activities, partnerships, linkages, host-country relationships, and the challenges the office faces. Meeting presentations and interactions during a luncheon shared with staff highlighted various program objectives, activities, partnerships, impacts, and issues, such as national staff welfare.

1Lumpkin, Bänziger, and Mekuria visited and interacted with highlevel officials and representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies, and other development partners, including non-governmental organizations and private sector partners. During these interactions, Lumpkin elaborated on CIMMYT’s role and contributions in Zimbabwe and in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, while thanking the Zimbabwean government for hosting the regional office, which is based at the University of Zimbabwe Farm. During a private sector and NGO forum organized by CIMMYT, discussions centered on private-public partnerships and NGO contributions in technology development and promotion for maize-based farming systems. On a field visit to the rural farming community of Shamva, Lumpkin chatted with smallholder farmers regarding their experiences testing conservation agriculture (CA) practices and soil fertility management activities as introduced by CIMMYT’s CA and Soil Fertility Consortium for Southern Africa (SOFECSA) programs.

Another highlight of Lumpkin’s visit was the colorful reception organized in his honor and attended by senior representatives from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture, including the Deputy Minister, Permanent Secretary, and Principal Director for Agricultural Research for Development, Acting Director for Extension, and other high officials. Guests included delegates from CIMMYT’s technical and development partners representing research, academia, the private sector, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank, and media. Lumpkin’s presentation “CIMMYT and the Challenges of Food Security in Southern Africa” spurred lively discussion among all attending.

During the reception, Lumpkin presented the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) Project’s excellence award for the best maize technology development and dissemination team in southern Africa to the Zimbabwean maize research and development team. This team comprises scientists from the Department of Agricultural Research for Development (DAR4D) and Agricultural Extension and Technical Services (AGRITEX). On acknowledging this award, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. David Chapfika and Dr. R. Gata, Principal Director of Agricultural Research, commended CIMMYT’s effort and its continued presence and commitment to Zimbabwe and the SADC region, while congratulating the team.

Traveling further south, Lumpkin and Mekuria visited South Africa and had very useful discussions and interactions with the country’s ministry of agriculture officials, top management, and maize and wheat program leaders of the Agricultural Research Council. In a meeting with teams from the New African Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), discussions focused on the role of CGIAR centers in promoting the objectives of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) coordinated by NEPAD. It was recommended that NEPAD explore and follow up on potential funding opportunities for CIMMYT activities in the region.