Transforming Agriculture through Research & Innovation

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Transforming Agriculture through Research & Innovation

Three cross-country teams* selected at the end of an Agricultural Research Symposium held in Nairobi, (from 20 – 21 March 2018) have been awarded AUD10,000 each, to design and implement actionable research projects. The innovation competition prize was awarded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Six teams, who were part of a wider group of over 100 delegates from 13 countries in Africa and Australia, pitched innovative ideas to a three-judge panel, who selected the finalists. This investment will be used to fund cross-country research and innovation projects, incorporating private sector engagement. The projects are part of a strong network of changemakers in agricultural production and food security, created through collaborations formed during the symposium.

One of the projects seeks to enhance the productivity of strategic crops in water shed areas in Ethiopia, Kenya and Madagascar by introducing soil restoration and crop technologies. The team hopes to pilot teff (a food grain found in Ethiopia) and rice production, and use a water shed management approach to increase crop productivity and improve soil fertility.

The second initiative will explore the use of ecological approaches to integrating small livestock and vegetable production for household food and nutrition security. Recognising that many farmers focus solely on vegetable production or livestock, the project hopes to reduce environmental pollution and inspire the inclusion of animal and vegetable food sources in at least one meal, a day, among target population and increase income generation through the sale of small surplus livestock and produced vegetable. The initiative targets communities living in Denda District (Ethiopia), Ambatondrazaka District (Madagascar) and the Tana River Basin (Kenya).

The third initiative will be a situational analysis to improve horticultural waste management practices through collaborative knowledge sharing. The team will characterise waste generated in mango, oranges and banana value chains in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. They will examine and document the existing management practices and disseminate findings to stakeholders across participating countries. The team has secured a matching grant of USD 10,000 from the Kwale-based Base Titanium mining company, in Kenya. This additional investment highlights the important role that private sector plays in enhancing food security. It guides the creation of policies and investing in the implementation of these, in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and more specifically the Sustainable Development Goal #2 which aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Keynote speakers at the opening plenary included Her Excellency Alison Chartres – Australian High Commissioner to Kenya; Prof Hamadi Boga- Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation; and Prof Peter Mbithi-  Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi. They all reiterated the need to accelerate investment in an agricultural revolution that allows the development of innovative technologies and practices in Africa through tested research. They also affirmed that the investments would guarantee not only nutrition, but also food security, job creation and poverty reduction in a sustainable manner. The symposium also explored lessons from Australia and Africa, with panels focusing on technological advancements, private sector contribution, and the integration of gender for agricultural impact.

To download the presentations from the symposium click here:

http://aaun.edu.au/2018/03/agricultural-research-symposium-2018-report/

*Each cross-country teams comprised of members from:

  • Australia, Ethopia, Kenya and Madagascar
  • Australia, Canada, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
  • Australia, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe

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