News / Africa

African Farmers to Benefit From $7.8 million Grant

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
A 7.8 million dollar grant offered through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will help an American university work with eight African countries to improve their farming techniques.

Michigan State University, through funding from the Gates Foundation Global Development Program, says the research aims to intensify farming methods that meet the agricultural needs of Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Tom Jayne, professor of international development at Michigan State University, has been living in Lusaka, Zambia for the last two years, and has been involved in long-term projects to improve the sustainability of African farmland.  He said one of the main goals of this project is capacity, and its relationship to previous work done by MSU.  An example is Zambia.

“It’s been increasingly well known that African policymakers are I think more likely to get good policy advice, or wish to get good policy advice, from local African institutes.  So we’ve been working to develop this agricultural policy institute here and I am pleased to report that as of February 9 of this year, that was the official launch of the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, an independent, Zambian-managed institute much like the Brookings Institute in the United States,” said Jayne.

Jayne emphasized the importance of capacity-building in Africa.  He said he and his colleagues at the Gates Foundation lament that each year 15-20 good African Ph.D. analysts in agriculture and economics graduate from programs around the world, but most do not return to their home countries to integrate their knowledge back into the African communities.

“What we are seeing instead, and you know these are very logical decisions that they make to do this, is that they may end up in the World Bank in Washington or IFPRI, or they may end up at Michigan State University, because the incentives of these institutions are very attractive, and they can pay much more than the University of Malawi, or the University of Zambia where they are much more constrained.  So part of the systemic challenge here is how to improve the conditions at these African universities and research institutes so that it will want to attract good qualified African analysts to come and make a commitment to their institution and to their country, in a way that meets their needs at the same time,” explained Jayne.

It is well known and documented that farmers in Africa deal with extreme weather conditions, from droughts lasting for months to flooding.  Jayne said farmers are noticing the palpable weather conditions.

“Here in Zambia, this year right now, the rains should have been here already.  But, here it is November 15th and it has only rained once or twice so far here.  So the rains are late. This is an evolving pattern, more erratic rainfall, and when it does come, it comes in one or a concentrated cloud burst, with more intermittent dry spells in between,” explained Jayne, who also pointed out, “This has important implications for the appropriateness of different farm technologies that will effectively work and adapt to climate change."

"Some of this may involve conservation farming technologies, which are ways of retaining soil moisture.  And the research that we are doing is looking at the extent to which adoption of these techniques is likely to improve farmers production and yields and their access to food throughout the dry season," said Jayne.

The project will focus on three main staple crops - maize, sorghum and rice - to improve their response rate to fertilizer.  These key crops have a significantly lower rate of growth for African farmers in comparison to the response rate for other farmers around the world.  But Jayne said through tangible interaction with farmers, where they can actually see the improvement in their crops by applying new methods, they will incorporate the changes into the managing of their farms.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid