July 26, 2013
The top U.S. aid official announced two new partnerships July 25 aimed at improving crop production and reducing hunger in Africa.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah launched two new innovation labs to improve climate resilience in some of Africa’s main cereal crops and increase private sector investment that can help smallholder farmers.
Shah announced the new partnerships at the U.S. release of the Feed the Future 2013 Progress Report, USAID said in a news release the same day.
“Today, as we celebrate Feed the Future’s success over the last year, I am pleased to launch two new Feed the Future innovation labs with U.S. universities and their partners,” Shah said.
The new labs are the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum & Millet and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy. Drawing on the expertise of top universities around the United States, they represent a new model of development that uses science and technology to address challenges in agriculture and food security, USAID said.
“The Feed the Future on Sorghum & Millet Innovation Lab reflects President Obama’s and Feed the Future’s strong focus on using science and technology to help smallholders meet the challenge of increasing cereal production even as climate change alters environmental conditions and reduces agricultural productivity,” Shah said.
“The Food Security Policy Innovation Lab builds directly on President Obama’s leadership in launching the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition last year,” he added. “It will help many more countries worldwide achieve major policy reforms, attract significant private sector investments and increase economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, other rural people and urban consumers.”
Shah announced the two new labs during a Capitol Hill event co-hosted by the Senate Hunger Caucus and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. They are part of the Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Center, which was launched in 2012 to address the greatest challenges to food security and nutrition.
RESEARCH ON SORGHUM AND MILLET
The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum & Millet will be led by Kansas State University and will produce innovations and technologies — such as climate-resilient varieties and new, more profitable market approaches for farmers — for use across sorghum- and millet-producing areas in Africa.
As part of the Innovation Lab, U.S. university researchers will collaborate with partner-country scientists to address key constraints along the sorghum and pearl millet value chains, developing new technologies and innovations that can then be used by smallholder farmers on a larger scale to build productivity and sustainability.
The research outputs will also improve resilience in dryland areas, where sorghum and pearl millet are critical to food security. The program will focus specifically in Senegal, Niger and Ethiopia.
BETTER FOOD SECURITY POLICIES
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, led by a consortium including Michigan State University, the International Food Policy Research Institute and the University of Pretoria, will help increase partner countries’ capacity to identify and implement improved food security policies that can help facilitate greater food security and nutrition.
This innovation lab will work with and support a wide range of governments, local policy research organizations, university researchers, private sector associations and civil society groups in building capacity and providing critical information to inform better food, agriculture and nutrition policies.