June 10, 2013 – MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala., USA, and ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Africa needs to double food production between now and 2050 to ensure food security for a growing population. Fortunately, new technologies are available – tested, proven and already in use – that can substantially increase crop yields and food production. With government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector working together, these technologies can be scaled out, benefiting millions of families across Africa and around the world.
This was the unanimous view of international experts gathered at the Africa Committee meeting of the IFDC board of directors, which met in Addis Ababa during June 1-3. The meeting provided a comprehensive review of IFDC’s Africa projects – progress, challenges, priorities for the future and opportunities to expand partnerships with other organizations involved in agricultural development in Africa. Specifically, it laid out plans for ongoing and new projects that will expand food production, fight hunger and poverty and create better livelihoods for small-scale farmers.
The meeting was opened by H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission; Prof. Tekalign Mamo, Advisor to the State Minister for Agriculture, government of Ethiopia; and H.E. Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Chair of the IFDC Africa Committee.
Mwencha was optimistic that outcomes from the meeting would directly impact small-scale farmers across Africa. “Agriculture must develop for national and regional economies to grow,” he said. “Discussions at this meeting will find a place in national policy, and facilitate people to work together to transform Africa from a food importer to an exporter.”
“Agricultural development is a national priority,” Prof. Mamo said. “This is where IFDC’s support, its technical expertise and worldwide experience will be vital. As an international organization with long experience in Africa, IFDC offers a great deal to national organizations. IFDC projects in Ethiopia have shown excellent results, and I have no doubt that their new initiatives will be equally successful.”
New technologies save resources
Technical presentations at the meeting described new technologies and innovative market-driven approaches that can increase yields, protect soil and water resources and strengthen agricultural value chains.
One such technology is fertilizer deep placement (FDP) – a simple, low-cost method being promoted by IFDC that allows farmers to use 30 to 40 percent less fertilizer while harvesting higher yields and protecting the environment. In Bangladesh, FDP is used on more than 1.3 million hectares, producing an extra 860,000 metric tons of rice every year. In Africa, it is being scaled out in 13 countries in collaboration with government agencies and international donors. Adoption has grown rapidly because FDP is easy to use, requires only limited investment and is highly profitable. It is also reduces fertilizer contamination of groundwater and the atmosphere (harmful greenhouse gases).
Agriculture is the central element of economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa. It is also the main tool for the attainment of food security and alleviation of hunger on the continent. These two attributes are the basis for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG1).
The leadership of the AU has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to a food-secure Africa, especially during the tenure of President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi as Chairman of the African Union. The launch of the African Food Basket initiative and African Food and Nutrition Security Day are two examples of this focus.
The Division of Agriculture and Food Security of the AU’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) is best positioned to address most of these challenges, especially through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and other projects and programs.
IFDC is a public international organization that has worked in Africa for almost 40 years. IFDC implements a range of agricultural development projects that have helped increase crop yields, improve soil fertility, build market linkages and train and support farmers as well as agro-entrepreneurs.
In Ethiopia, IFDC works closely with DREA, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Transformation Agency and with donors such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Directorate-General for International Cooperation of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
IFDC combines cutting-edge research with development programs at the grassroots level. It has implemented development projects in over 100 countries; capacity development initiatives have benefited 150 countries.
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