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March 13, 2011

Maize-legume based farming system study launched

A four year Sustainable Intensification of Maize - Legumes Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) has been launched.

According to the Programme Leader Dr. Mulugetta Mekuria, the project that is funded by the Australian government at the tune of 20 million US dollars in five countries – Kenya , Ethiopia , Tanzania , Mozambique and Malawi is intended to increase food security.

“We intend to introduce improved technologies for sustainable growth in producing maize-legume based farming systems in the four countries where maize growing is popular with the local smallholders,” he noted during the opening of a meeting at a Nairobi.

Mekuria observed that plans are also at advance stage to improving markets and policies, partnerships and capacity building for the smallholder farmers. He said that project is set to benefit 500,000 farmers in the next 10 years and will also help the farmers drop monoculture agriculture.

Mekuria revealed that farmers will be involved fully in research through farmer groups as a way of sustaining the project amongst them.

“Under the project we intend to equip laboratories in the National Research Institutions and also train scientists for their PhD and Masters Programme,” he added.

CMMYT Deputy Director for Research and Partnerships Marianne Banziger said that Africa has the potential to increase maize productivity once the adoption of climate change resilient crops is taken seriously.

She called on the eastern and southern Africa countries to combine available technologies to optimize food production in increasing food production to help eradicate hunger in the region.

The four year project is collaboration between Australian Centre for Agricultural Research, CMMYT, national research institution from the five countries, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (ASERECA) and the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).


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