Australia and Canada select five African research teams to improve food security

Thursday, 18 December 2014


The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) announced five projects in eastern and southern Africa to address food security problems. The projects are funded through Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF), a four-year, $15-million partnership between the two agencies. CultiAF supports innovative research on post-harvest systems, nutrition, and sustainable water use. It will also identify ways to extend the reach of promising research results and support national and regional food security efforts on the continent.

“The CultiAF projects will help to increase the incomes and improve the diets of the people who need it the most in Sub-Saharan Africa, where agricultural productivity is the lowest in the world,” said IDRC President Jean Lebel. “This partnership between IDRC and ACIAR will increase food security through practical science for development,” he added.

The five projects will run for 30 months. This high-quality research will promote the adoption of solutions to tackle persistent problems of food insecurity:

  • In Zambia and Malawi, researchers will evaluate post-harvest fish processing practices to improve their effectiveness, reduce losses, and promote greater equity among the men and women who work in the fish production chain.
  • In Zimbabwe, researchers will partner with government officials and the private sector to address the dangers of aflatoxins, the naturally occurring toxic substances produced by fungi on maize. Tests on storage technologies and community education will help reduce contamination of maize and exposure of people, especially children whose early development can suffer if exposed.
  • In Kenya and Uganda, researchers are testing the feasibility of raising poultry and fish on feed made from insects rather than soybeans and cereals. The switch will help to reduce costs for small-scale producers and redirect the food crops currently used as feed toward human consumption.
  • In Malawi, fishing is a crucial source of employment and nutrition, yet 40% of fish are lost during post-harvest processing. The research team will test and adapt solar fish-drying tents to reduce losses and develop new business models for fishers.
  • In Kenya and Uganda, researchers will boost food security and support livelihoods by improving the processing of beans. Their research on the production and marketing chain for precooked beans aims to increase bean production, test new products, and promote the consumption of precooked beans to improve nutrition and reduce women’s time spent on household cooking.

“Agricultural research is an efficient means to reduce poverty and promote prosperity. By adopting innovative practices smallholder farmers can be transformed from subsistence to enterprise farmers,” said Mellissa Wood, Director of the Australian International Food Security Research Centre. “Because of early involvement of the private sector in the research, the CultiAF projects have great potential to deliver commercial benefits and growth for the region,” Wood said.

The ACIAR is part of the Australian Government’s Official Development Assistance Program. Research funded by ACIAR aims to help developing countries to help themselves, by contributing to solving agricultural problems and building their research capacity. ACIAR’s involvement in CultiAF is delivered through the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSC).

About IDRC
A key part of Canada’s foreign policy efforts, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. The result is innovative, lasting solutions that aim to improve lives and livelihoods.

For further information:

Media contact in Australia: Sarah Vandermark, Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, ACIAR, Email: [email protected] / +61 2 62170500 / Media Contact in Canada: Marianne Goodwin, Senior Media and Public Affairs Advisor, IDRC, Email: [email protected]/+1 613 696 2343/ @IDRC_CRDI;