Thursday, 6 December 2012

FARA Lauds New Australian Food Security Research Center
Dec 6, 2012 by Idowu Ejere 

The launch of the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) last month ushered in a new momentum in north-south partnership for development. The aim of the AIFSC is to work though collaborative partnerships to help understand and overcome barriers to innovation uptake in order to increase agricultural productivity, income generation and food security. The forum is the first time that such a high level delegation of African Agriculture Ministers, bureaucrats, researchers, policy makers and extensionists will come together with Australian counterparts to focus on issues related to food security in Africa and the important role that Australia can play.
Source: Eric McGaw, FARA
Executive Director of FARA , Monty Jones and Chairman of the FARA Board Tiemoko Yo inspecting a FARA-AfDB (DONATA) project potato field in Rwanda 
The in Africa: Bridging Research and Practice" was opened by Senator Bob Carr, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs who announced  a $15 million partnership with Canada for agricultural research into improving food security for expectant mothers and children under five in sub-Saharan Africa to address Africa's high rates of stunted growth in children under five.

According to Senator Carr, "More than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africans – around 234 million people – will suffer from a lack of nutrition this year, under-nourishment is particularly acute among expectant mothers and young children in east and southern Africa. This research will focus on the needs of these women and children by examining ways to improve water use and reduce the post-harvest loss of crops from drought."
Also speaking at the high level international form ushering in the new Centre, the Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural research in Africa (FARA), Professor Monty Jones lauded the efforts of the Australian Government in supporting agricultural development in Africa while maintaining that the main cause of food insecurity in Africa is low productivity levels which has caused food shortages and hindered production from keeping pace with population growth. 

According to Jones “to put the African food security problem in the context of developments elsewhere in the world, from 1963 -2010, food production per capital fell by 13% in sub-Saharan Africa but rose 44% in Asia and 48% in South America, even where food is available, million cannot access or afford it because of underdeveloped markets and weak infrastructure.”

Speaking on behalf of the CGIAR, Karen Brooks Director of the CGIAR research programme on policies, institutions and markets spoke on how pro-poor policies, inclusive institutions and markets can improve food security, create jobs, raise incomes and generally improve livelihoods for smallholders and women.

Mellissa Wood, Director of the CHOGM Australia noted that “African farmers manage complex systems, often in drought prone areas with risky market access; many Australian farmers operate under similar conditions and are some of the most innovative and successful in the world. She noted that a blueprint for improving African agriculture has been developed (Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, CAADP) existed and iterated the AIFSC's  support to this initiative. 

Policy makers present at the event included the Ministers of agriculture from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda. Also present was the African Union Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture.

The new Centre will build on Australian farmers’ and researchers’ ingenuity and success, as well as strong partnerships in Africa to identify innovative strategies to improve food security. The Centre’s partnership with Canada is part of more than $500 million in long-term Australian commitments to African development. Recent outcomes include new livestock vaccines for East Africa; tools, fertilizer and seeds to support 376 000 Zimbabwe farmers and improved harvest conditions for 500,000 African maize farmers.