From Informing To Engaging: What Users of CGIAR Research Information Are Asking

Ask A Question Dialogue Box

As you know, the CGIAR Research Map ( provides information about research projects that are carried out by the 15 CGIAR Centers in order to enhance information and knowledge sharing while significantly reducing the time taken to search for project information across the various Centers.

Through the ‘Ask a Question’ dialogue box found at the bottom of each project fact sheet in the Research Map, the Map has moved beyond informing users of agriculture information of what is happening ‘where, when and with whom’ to engaging them.  Users can send messages to project scientists and make comments about the research projects through this dialogue box.

This new feature in the Research Map, designed to increase the level of interaction and collaboration among users of agriculture information has seen over 50 inquiries being sent to various projects. From technical support, project reports, internship opportunities for students, various scientists details requests to conversations leading to developing new partnerships, the ‘Ask a Question’ box has vast advantages and shows the enthusiasm of CGIAR scientists to share their information and knowledge, collaborate and even learn from others partners.

Below are some of the inquiries and the various responses by the scientists

Project Title:Promotion of Exports of Organic Bananas in Ethiopia and Sudan (Bioversity) 
Qn: We are a tissue culture firm based in India, and have been approached several times from private buyers in Sudan for tissue culture banana varieties of elite clones such as Grand Naine and Robista. We would like information on the banana market, import regulation and the growers in Sudan. Is it possible for CGIAR to share information with us?

Ans: The project in Sudan is being implemented with the Horticulture Sector Administration of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Khartoum and I am copying this reply to the National Project Manager, Dr. Salah Bakhiet ( Please follow up with him for more specific information, but I can inform you that this project has previously purchased tissue culture plants from Du Roi in South Africa and the import process is relatively straightforward. The local market is dominated by Dwarf Cavendish, produced on relatively small holdings, by traditional means, but there are a number of investors interested in expanding banana plantations for export, so I think there is growing demand for good quality planting material. I understand that there are also some start-up tissue culture labs in the country looking to produce seedlings; it is possible that they would be interested in collaborating with you.

Michael Bolton (

Project Title: Novel approaches to the improvement of banana production in Eastern Africa: the application of biotechnological methodologies — Phase II (Bioversity)
Qn: hullo, thanks for the good work you are doing. What are the East African highland banana clones that are resistant/ susceptible to Black sigatoka disease?

Ans: All the EAHB cultivars are susceptible to black sigatoka disease especially if they are grown below 1400 masl. EAHBs do best between 1500-1800 masl and within that altitude range the disease does thrive. However with climate changes we are experiencing, the picture could change as highlands are also warm these days.

Eldad Karamura (

Project Title: Validation of a coconut embryo culture protocol for the international exchange of germplasm (Bioversity)
Qn: Grateful if I could be provided with a rapid protocol for multiplication of coconut in vitro. and could you please advise on the explant to be used for rapid multiplication.

Ans: Thanks for your interest in vitro culture of coconut. We are working on clonal propagation of coconut and are using immature flowers, immature embryos and plumular tissues (from mature zygotic embryos) as sources of explants. We have demonstrated that we could get clones from these explants, however, we are still in the process of standardizing the protocol. The regeneration success is still low and moreover, it is not a rapid protocol. It normally takes us two years (at most) to obtain cloned coconut plantlets. The repeatability of the results is a big challenge for us, the respond of the cultures is highly variable. If you want, I can provide you a copy of our paper on clonal propagation of coconut using immature flowers. By the way, have you started your work in coconut tissue culture? How is it going?

Stephan Weise (

Project Title: A globally Integrated African Soil Information Service (AFSIS) (CIAT)
Qn: Was or is there any collaboration in the area of capacity strengthening between the Lead Centre and the Partner Centre(s)? • If so, can you briefly describe this collaboration and highlight the drivers of success or failure of such collaboration? If not, would it have been beneficial to collaborate in this area and how can/could that best be achieved?

Ans: The whole AfSIS project is a collaborative effort between CIAT and ICRAF. CIAT and ICRAF have been collaborating on three main areas, namely: (1)Capacity building through ICRAF’s Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory that plays a critical role in training scientists and technical staff from CIAT since inception of the AfSIS project in November 2008; Digital soil mapping techniques and training of scientists and technicians on fertiliser trials and application.

Samuel Gaturu (

Project Title: Mahogany and teak furniture: action research to improve value chain efficiency and enhance livelihoods (CIFOR)
Qn: What are the environmental impacts of extracting mahogany and teak?

Ans: People in Jepara District have developed the teak and mahogany furniture industry over many decades, as is apparent from the huge number of furniture workshops in the district. Recently, wood resources are becoming increasingly scarce; therefore, actors in the furniture industry should consider growing trees in collaboration with forest farmers. Indirectly, the sustainability of the furniture industry will result in a higher demand on wood sources, potentially meaning higher wood prices. This will provide greater incentives for people to grow trees and improve the environment. Good wooden furniture can conserve carbon for many more years than paper can. New and recycled furniture will help reduce carbon emissions if it is good quality.

Herry Purnomo (

Project Title: Sustainable intensification of maize-legume cropping systems for food security in eastern and southern Africa (SIMLESA) (CIMMYT)

Qn: How about opportunities for postgraduate studies?
Ans: Dear Abubakari, Kindly contact Dr. Mulugeta Mekuria on this issue. His email is Mulugetta Mekuria (M.MEKURIA@CGIAR.ORG)

Project Title: Improvement of small ruminants productivity in Great Jumhuriya (ICARDA)

Qn: I am livestock researcher, Government employee, we wish to work in collaboration with your esteemed organization in livestock area.

Ans: Dear Zabron, Thanks for your interest in our work. We are interested to collaborate with national researchers provided that there are common research areas and the proposed collaboration is within our mandate. Thus, send me some information on your institute and your interests to my email address at ICARDA (

Best regards Barbara Rischkowsky

Project Title: Sesame improves livelihoods of farmers: Enhancing agricultural productivity and profitability in Northern Uganda (ICRISAT)
Qn: What is the marketability of sesame in the regions of gulu,kitgum and lira districts? Are there any challenges in its marketing? How is the general market structure, as in storage, marketing, demand and supply, the quantities available how the prices are determined and generally its availability?

Ans: Sesame is grown by smallholder farmers using landrace varieties. Quantity produced by a farmer is small and quality varied. A lot is bought and exported. Long value chain makes marketing a problem. There is a huge export demand. Due to high rainfall, Uganda does not produce white seeded type. We are working with producer marketing groups to reduce the long value chain.


Project Title: East Africa Dairy Development Project (ILRI)
Qn:  We are an organization partnering with Uganda Christian University on agricultural development, both with dairy and crop production. We are shopping for dairy cattle to purchase and hence need help with the following questions. -Do you supply breeders -how do you determine those breeders reputation/credibility -can you determine those breeders record of lineage(calving performance/milking performance dam, sire and previous heifers) -Progeny examples from other diaries? -In case you supply us with dairy cattle, will you replace non-fertile heifers? -Is it advisable to buy calves, heifers, bred heifers, or producing cows and why? -Are they crossbred or pure bred? -Do you have a pulpating specialist who can determine progress? -Can he/she test for or show OCV for brucellosis/TB/Mastitis/etc? -Can you determine the age or if it has a broken mouth? -Do you have a confirmatory mode for the bag, feet, structure etc disposition? What determines bull selection? -If AI, Calving ease, milk production, conformation etc -If natural service (is it same as above except have the Vet give the bull a breeding soundness test?

Ans: EADD does not sell dairy animals but you may want to contact the following person on breeding question: Augustus Nyerere ( who is based in Kampala

Best regards, Isabelle Baltenweck (

Project Title: Small ruminant value chains as platforms for reducing poverty and increasing food security in dryland areas of India and Mozambique (ILRI)
Qn1: Sir,In Tamil Nadu Small ruminants plays a significant role to the poor rural community for getting a reliable income. Standard management strategies and forecast to be developed in different agroclimatic zones. If funding is available the research on sheep and goat productive system will be carried out with in a specific period and report will be submitted to you with our University permission. Thank You, Dr. S.Vasantha Kumar

Ans:  Dear Vasantha Kumar,
Many thanks for your interest in the project and the comment. Goats are indeed very important for poor livestock keepers and women, particularly in marginalised and semid-arid environments. And there is a need to develop agro-ecology specific management strategies. This will be an integral part of the imGoats project for the areas where it will be implemented in India and Mozambique. Unfortunately, we do not have resources to go beyond (as a part of this project) to other non-project areas. But it would be useful if the research community which is working on small ruminants in India can come together to share experiences and the knowledge available, we might be able to collate the information we already have and identify where the gaps are and, try to obtain funding to address some of the critical gaps identified.

Qn2: We are working on the same theme in Andhra Pradesh. Goat rearers organised in SHGs and formed networks at block/madal level. Trying to reduce the mortality due to preventable diseases by providing timely De-worming and vaccination through community managed preventive health care system. We have community managed insurance product for small ruminants. We need to work on increasing fodder base and markets. Is there any opportunity to collaborate with you in his project. Regards Bhagya WASSAN

Ans: Hi Bhagya, I am aware of some of WASSAN’s work. I would definitely like to learn more about the community managed insurance scheme and federation of the groups you are trying out. BAIF and CARE who are our implementing partners in the project countries are also using farmer groups and the animal health interventions similar to what you have described. They also have some market related interventions in the form of providing market scales and linking farmers to traders etc. But through this project, we would like to try the concepts of innovation platforms and hubs for enhancing access to markets and services for the Value chain actors. Fodder/feed resources for the small ruminants is a major issue. Some projects which have tried stall feeding models have found that they might not be viable in all contexts. We would like to learn more from you on how you intend to deal with the fodder issues.
We should definitely be able to collaborate with you, in the form of exchanging experiences and learning from each other. Our project areas in India are in the Udaipur district (Rajasthan) and Dumka district (Jharkhand) and BAIF is our implementing partner.
I will be in Hyderabad towards the end of May and would definitely like to get in touch with you, meet to discuss the projects and, visit some of your project areas if possible.

Regards,  Ranjitha Puskur (

Project Title: Improved pig production and health in Western Kenya (ILRI)
Qn: Hullo, it’s a nice project to look at, how i wish it would be replicated in Uganda to help its poor resource farmers

Ans: Dear Mwesigwa Robert, Thank you for your comment. In March 2011, ILRI, in collaboration with three CGIAR centres (CIAT, ICARDA and the WorldFish Center), submitted a proposal to the CGIAR Consortium Board on a planned CGIAR Research Program in line with the ongoing change process within the CGIAR. The research program, titled ‘More meat, milk and fish, by and for the poor’, is aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder livestock and fish systems so as to increase availability and affordability of meat, milk and fish for poor consumers and thus contribute towards poverty reduction through increased market participation by smallholders. It proposes to study 8 pro-poor value chains in 7 countries, one of which is the smallholder pig production and marketing value chain in Uganda. Please visit  where you can download the research program proposal and find out more.

Thanks, again, for your interest in our work. Regards, Tezira Lore (,  Communications Specialist

Project Title: Addressing Climate Change by Building Social and Ecological Resilience in the Lake Chilwa Basin (WorldFish)

Qn: My name is Davide Fezzardi and I am working in Hanoi, Vietnam with the International Collaborating Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture Sustainability (ICAFIS – I am currently managing a project supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) which aims to generate, capture and share knowledge of innovative climate change adaptation and mitigation activities in the fisheries and aquaculture. We need to prepare short guidelines for integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation options for fisheries and aquaculture into IFAD project design. I am very much interested to know a bit more about the on-going climate change project Enhancing the Resilience of Lake Chilwa Basin Communities to Climate Change that WorldFish Center is implementing as reported in the website. I am wondering whether it would be possible to get some background and update/progress about this project. This would be very helpful and the WorldFish Center would be properly acknowledged. Thank you very much and look forward to hearing from you.
Ans: Dear David. We are currently doing different studies on climate change and adaptation and most of these are not concluded yet except for livelihoods analysis and fish value chain analyses. Let me know if these would be useful to you now.

Thanks Joseph Nagoli, WorldFish Center, Malawi

Project Title: Improved Fisheries Management in Tropical Reservoirs (WorldFish)

Qn: How can I get a copy of the of “Improved Fisheries Management in Tropical Reservoirs” by C. Bene 2010?
Ans: Dear Oswald, Please visit: for the requested report on ‘Improved fisheries productivity and management in tropical reservoirs’ you can also access it from the external links section of the project fact sheet.

C. Bene

Project Title: Building REDD Capacity for Developing Country Negotiators and Land Managers – Phase II (WorldAgroforestry)

Qn: How can I participate in this program?
Ans: Thank you for your interest. Kindly get in touch with Peter Minang at and Joyce Kasyoki at

To find out more about Ongoing Research and how you can contribute information, send comments and inquiries about research projects please visit:

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