29 November 2022, Africa: A decade of impact, technologies and know-how as legacy.
Through research for development partnerships, Africa RISING has over the past decade created opportunities that have enabled over 30,000 smallholder farming households to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty through sustainable farming systems that improved food, nutrition, and income security, particularly for children and women.
Africa RISING is a regional research program that includes three development research projects supported by the US Agency for International Development under the US Government’s Feed the Future Initiative.
Partners of the African Research on Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) met from 1-3 November 2022 in Samanko, Mali to wrap up their activities and to prepare post-project impacts.
“The main reason for this workshop is to highlight a number of points for sustainable development in the community. The first is to improve productivity, the second is to improve livelihoods and the third is to preserve the environment,” said Fred Kizito, Chief Scientist and Africa RISING project manager
Many of the impacts discussed at the workshop are long-lasting and some continue even after project completion. The introduction of improved sorghum varieties with 30-40% increased grain yield and superior fodder improved the incomes of farmers. With farmers adopting good agricultural practices, aflatoxin levels were reduced by 4 ppm/kg in drought-tolerant groundnut. Initiatives on soil and water conservation and women-centric initiatives integrating nutrition and agriculture continue to thrive through support groups established during the project period.
“Over the past decade, Africa RISING in Mali has contributed a lot to the development in different communities in Mali. Through the project, we sponsored one doctoral student, two master’s students, one bachelor’s degree student, and two technicians for the Institute of Rural Economy (IER). The project has helped small farmers, associations, and young people to fight against food insecurity,” said Dr Kalifa Traore, Scientific Director of IER.
During the project period, more than 50 extension workers were trained on best practices for feeding infants and young children and more than 4500 women were trained on vegetable production for improved household nutrition. The 12 groups of nutrition support established in the project intervention communities continue to function effectively.
“I remain confident that there will be continuity and that the activities in our different technology parks in Mali will also continue even after the project,” said Dr Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu, National Coordinator of the Africa RISING project in Mali.
Technologies to conserve soil and water have recorded significant gains. Implementation of Contour Bunding (CB) associated with fast-growing tree species (e.g., Gliricidia) reduced soil erosion by 40% thus allowing more soil water infiltration. Sediment losses were reduced by 192%. The net returns were higher by 20%. More than 150 farmers (30% women) benefited from training and financial support from Africa RISING to implement contour bunding in one hectare. In addition, the farmers were willing to pay $10 per hectare to have a bund on their farmland.
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