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Researchers seek to tackle food insecurity

20 June 2014, 09:03

Naivasha - Africa researchers and partners working to improve food security in the continent are due to meet in Naivasha next week to seek ways of boosting food production, organizers said on Thursday.

The conference, which is organized by the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), will provide a platform for researchers involved in food security projects, from nine African countries to showcase findings to tackling food insecurity in Africa.

"The researchers will share findings on research that seeks to find and promote practical solutions for improving productivity, income and nutrition of small holder farmers, with a focus on women," KARI said in a statement.

It said the food security experts will share findings on a range of thematic areas including new generation livestock vaccines; under-utilized and under-researched food crops and livestock; soil fertility and water management technologies for dryland areas; and better nutrition and diversified diets.

"The findings of the various projects in different countries have demonstrated that it is indeed possible for our countries to produce enough food and generate incomes to secure the livelihoods of many people," KARI Director Dr Ephraim Mukisira said.

"We should make deliberate efforts to ensure that the good lessons learnt during the implementation of these projects are up- scaled for wider adoption. This will only be possible if all our research and development institutions, the public and private sector are well capacitated to work together with farmers and not for farmers."

The "Research to feed Africa" symposium will put the spotlight on new and emerging practical, on the ground and scalable innovations from research conducted in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania supported by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) which aims to put into practice on-the-ground solutions to hunger and malnutrition.

IDRC Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa Simon Carter said CIFSRF supports innovative research partnerships between Canadian and developing-country researchers to respond to immediate food needs while increasing access to quality, nutritious food over the long term.

"We bring together the best natural and social scientists to develop practical solutions to increase food production, support small-holder farmers - especially women – and deal with the vexing reality that hundreds of millions of people remain hungry or malnourished," Carter said.

Current CIFSRF projects in Kenya are exploring how safe, effective and affordable vaccines can tackle cattle lung disease in Kenya potentially improving the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa who rely solely on livestock.

The projects also help to scale up agricultural innovations by investigating the numerous causes of low agricultural productivity in dryland areas while at the same time identifying opportunities for linking farmers to markets and influencing the formulation and implementation of sound policies.

- Xinhua

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