Improving Food Security East and West Africa
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10 March 2018 Author :   Protus Nabongo

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Thousands of farmers in six African countries now enjoy improved security and quality of their food supply, courtesy of Food Africa programme.

The 20,000 farmers in Kenya, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda have not only had improved the security and quality of their food supply, but their activities have changed the fortunes of other 200,000 people in their communities.

“FoodAfrica has been an extremely interesting and rewarding programme,” said Mila Sell, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland.

She said her team has worked directly with people at different levels, ranging from academics, policy makers, through to farmers, and they’ve given us immediate feedback.

“Through collaboration with these excellent partners, we have witnessed encouraging results. This initiative has definitely increased their knowledge and abilities on sustainable production of healthy and safe food. However, there is still a lot to be done to reach the Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goal in Africa. The work must continue,” Sell said.

“An important achievement of the 2012-2018 programme’s work on innovative extension approaches was engaging volunteer farmer trainers to help increase the reach and sustainability of agricultural extension services,” said Dr Steven Franzel, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

As a result, Franzel revealed, 85 organizations across four countries adopted the volunteer farmer trainer approach, or modified the approach they were using, in part due to exposure to FoodAfrica’s research.

“These organizations’ volunteer farmer trainers, in turn, work with several hundred thousand farmers,” he said.

Mercy Nyambura of World Agroforestry Centre, said the programme has enabled scientists to network soil laboratories across Africa and in the world.

“This will allow us to test our soils so that we recommend which seeds, fertilisers and other measures can be used for improved production of food on the continent,” Ms Nyambura said.

FoodAfrica Programme, funded by the Government of Finland, works from solid research to effective action, and has enhanced sustainable food production, food safety and nutrition, and market access and agricultural extension.

“The research component of the programme has seen the production of 300 publications and training materials targeting farmers, agricultural extension workers, academia and policy makers,” Franzel said.

The programme has also enabled 31 people from the six countries to obtain Masters and PhD degrees, highlighting the importance of building national capacity to ensure sustainability of food security.

Among several other activities, the research included learning how to reduce the risk of aflatoxins in crops and milk, increase the profitability of dairy production through improved management and create new methods to improve soil properties.

“Through improved post-harvest methods, including drying, and using traditional fermenting methods, farmers reduced aflatoxin contamination by 80 per cent,” Franzel said.

Researchers mapped micronutrients in soils, providing information to policy makers and recommendations for farmers on how to improve the quality of their soils.

FoodAfrica is implemented by the University of Helsinki, Häme University of Applied Science, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and four CGIAR centres: Bioversity International, International Food Policy Research Institute, International Livestock Research Institute and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

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