In February, international and local agricultural researchers, policymakers, and donors convened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to plan the regional Agricultural Sustainable Intensification Program. The workshop identified priority areas for a five-year research initiative on the mid-elevation, maize-based systems in Eastern and Southern Africa, aiming to increase productivity and incomes of smallholders while conserving the natural resource base.
The workshop followed and built on work from similar inception workshops in West Africa and Ethiopia that targeted important agricultural ecologies where hunger and poverty are widespread, but where the potential for ecologically-friendly agricultural growth is also substantial.
Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Cooperatives opened the workshop, laying out the challenge and urgency of increasing agricultural productivity. The meeting built on a number of themes, from integrating legumes and livestock to improved water and nutrient use efficiency and increased soil organic matter. Nutrition objectives were also a top objective; in Tanzania, for example, stunting rates reach 42 percent, with the highest rates found in rural, agricultural districts.
Partners in the research initiative include the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), U.S. universities, and national research and development institutions.
Details on the program are available at http://agintensificationafrica.wordpress.com/
Read an article about the program on the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture website