Beans, trees and chickpeas to feed Africa and the world

Ethiopian farmer Eshete Eneyew threshes maize in Abay, north of Addis Ababa, October 21, 2009. More than a million died during the 1984 famine, and the suffering provoked the biggest outpouring of charity the world has ever seen. Photo: B. Malone (Reuters)

Ethiopian farmer Eshete Eneyew threshes maize in Abay, north of Addis Ababa, October 21, 2009. More than a million died during the 1984 famine, and the suffering provoked the biggest outpouring of charity the world has ever seen.

(See bottom for French/Français à la fin)

Food security can take on many different forms, from the inclusion of agroforestry in sheep farming in rural Mali, to improved snap bean production in Ethiopia. During FARA’s sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week, researchers supported by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) will present projects that are helping to increase food security throughout Africa. The researchers represent academic and research institutions from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Mali.

What does agroforestry have to do with sheep?

Although sheep farming brings income to many communities in rural Mali and women farmers in particular, the practice has yet to develop to its full potential. Lack of reliable feed sources means sheep production stays low. New research finds that agroforestry could be a solution.

Malian researchers Hamidou Nantoumé and Aly Kouriba are studying how to increase quality and quantity of sheep feed in rural villages, especially during Mali’s dry season. Five species of local woody forages may be the hardy source of livestock fodder that rural farmers have been needing, when grown in the context of a mixed agroforestry system. Nantoumé and Kouriba are examining the crops’ nutritional content and sheep grazing preferences and growth rates to determine how the association between livestock and woody crops could actually increase ovine productivity and contribute to food security.

Read more about the project here

Chickpeas could be Ethiopia’s super-crop

Ethiopia suffers severe levels of food insecurity, the result of high population growth, land degradation, and frequent droughts. Food production is further stymied by poor soils and insufficient mechanisms for the distribution of agricultural inputs. What crop could possibly address multiple development concerns—poverty reduction, nutrition improvement, cash generation and ecosystem enhancement—at once?

Researchers at Hawassa University in Ethiopia and the University of Saskatchewan in Canada are assessing the potential of chickpea, a humble pulse crop, to address these problems. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum), while providing an excellent source of both protein and income for the resource poor farmer, are also an important component of the crop rotation systems in the highlands of Ethiopia. Teams at Hawassa University are also taking a look at market orientations to determine how the multiple benefits of chickpeas and other pulse crops could be heightened through farmer access to credit and extension advice.

Read more about the project here

Scaling up agricultural innovations in Kenya 

Scarce and erratic rainfall, depleted soil and water resources and declining agricultural productivity make farming in the arid regions of Kenya a distinct challenge. Yet, for some reason, the technologies that can address these problems have not been adopted by farmers. What are the alternatives for food production in the region?

Researchers from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and Canada’s McGill University are developing innovative strategies to accelerate large-scale adoption and scaling up of durable farming systems in three regions in Kenya. They are looking at the different causes of low agricultural productivity in the country and pinpointing income-earning opportunities for farmers to develop appropriate and environmentally sound farming practices. Increasing the consumption of healthy, traditional and local crops is a particular focus, and one that has high hopes for improving farmer livelihoods.

Read more about the project here.

What is CIFSRF?

The Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) is a partnership between Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and CIDA/DFATD that strives to improve food security through research. CIFSRF encourages researchers from developing countries find long-term, innovative, and sustainable ways of combating hunger and poverty in developing regions of the world. CIFSRF bridges the issues of food security and poverty through applied research and scientific innovation.

CIFSRF is an initiative that reflects IDRC’s core goal of reducing poverty in developing countries: food security plays a major role in achieving this. IDRC’s aim in this project is to help fund research organizations and researchers in their quest for solutions to food security problems in vulnerable areas of the world.

Read more about CIFSRF here.

Follow @IDRC_CRDI and @IDRC_ROSSA on Twitter for more on #AASW6!

FCRSAI: Solutions axées sur la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique et dans le monde

Le Fonds canadien de recherche sur la sécurité alimentaire internationale (FCRSAI), un partenariat entre le Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI) et l’ACDI/MAECD, a pour but de soutenir la recherche pour accroître la sécurité alimentaire dans le monde. Le FCRSAI appuie des chercheurs de pays en développement  en quête de solutions innovatrices et durables pour lutter contre la faim et la pauvreté dans les régions les plus démunies du monde. Le FCRSAI fait le lien entre la sécurité alimentaire et la pauvreté en finançant de la recherche sur le terrain effectuée par des chercheurs locaux.

Lors du sixième Forum Africain pour la Recherche Agricole , des chercheurs financés par le FCRSAI présenteront leurs projets de recherche qui ont pour but d’accroître la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique. Un projet sur l’utilisation de l’agroforesterie pour améliorer l’alimentation de troupeaux de moutons dans des communautés rurales maliennes sera présenté, ainsi qu’un projet visant à accroître la culture d’haricots en Éthiopie. D’autres projets portent sur  l’inoculation de pois chiches cultivés en rotation avec  le blé afin d’augmenter la  production de légumineuses en Éthiopie, ainsi  que  sur l’implémentation d’un système agricole innovateur et durable qui améliorera l’accès aux  aliments sains au Kenya.  Les chercheurs, venant d’universités et de centres de recherche africains, travaillent en partenariat avec des chercheurs canadiens afin de trouver des solutions aux défis agricoles auxquels font face bon nombre de pays africains.

L’initiative FCRSAI cadre bien avec  la mission du CRDI qui est de réduire la pauvreté dans les pays en développement : la sécurité alimentaire est essentielle à la réalisation de cet objectif. Par l’entremise du FCRSAI, le CRDI finance des organismes de recherche et des chercheurs à la recherche de solutions durables aux problèmes de sécurité alimentaire dans les régions les plus vulnérables du monde.

Lisez d’avantage sur le FCRSAI ici.

Suivez @IDRC_CRDI et @IDRC_ROSSA  sur Twitter pour en savoir plus sur #AASW6!

Blogpost by IDRC
Photo: B. Malone (Reuters)

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