The Humble Banana Transforms an Entire Community in Eastern Zimbabwe

By Doreen Hove, Adam Silagyi, Emma Siamena | USAID – Zimbabwe | Dec. 18 2017


Once these farmers learned to turn their banana crops into commercial enterprises, word spread to their neighbours — and so did the economic benefits.


 

It is early morning in Murara, a small rural community in the Honde Valley. Many farmers are hustling and bustling, loading large bunches of bananas onto trucks headed for Harare, the capital city, while others are tending to their fields.

Bananas grow well in this part of Zimbabwe with fertile soil, consistent rainfall and warm average temperatures. However, prior to USAID support in this region, bananas were primarily produced by subsistence farmers using poor agricultural practices and sold to informal markets that paid a fraction of a fair price.

Jane Mukupe, a 60-year-old banana farmer, used to be among that group. Like most of the small-scale farmers USAID supported, Mukupe Started her business with an initial investment of 200 improved variety banana plants valued at $200 and some fertilizers for her 0.1 hectare (0.25 acre) lot. That was in 2012.

Over the past five years, Mukupe has transformed her business. Nowadays, her day starts at 5 a.m. when she happily attends to more than 3,000 plants on 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres). Her income has increased exponentially from roughly $70 per month in 2012 to $1,500 per month in 2017.

Mukupe is very happy about the changes that have taken place in her life.

Jane Mukupe is now a community role model for women. Today she happily attends to more than 3,000 banana plants on 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres). / Doreen Hove, USAID

“I am a widow,” she explained. “My husband died in 1980 leaving me to take care of my three children. Before I became involved with USAID, I was farming beans, maize and only a few bananas. I also had several goats and was knitting jerseys, but I didn’t make enough money to take care of my family.”

Mukupe said she thought she was too old to participate in USAID’s project, but her late husband’s brother encouraged her to sell her goats to buy banana.

“It was very difficult for me to sell my goats since they were my source of livelihood. But when I look back today, I do not regret selling them,” Mukupe says. “Joining the project was the best decision of my life. I didn’t have a chance to go to school, but look at how successful I am now.”

Now a community role model for women, banana sales have allowed Mukupe to renovate her house and build a second home in the main town of Hauna. And, she purchased more goats.

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Jane Mukupe’s renovated kitchen. Income from bananas enabled her to renovate her kitchen and make it more modern. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Mukupe is just one of 600 banana producers who received technical assistance in agriculture techniques that transformed their farming practices and increased their production and incomes. Because those farmers passed on their knowledge to others in their community, today — two years after USAID’s project ended — there are over 5,000 commercial banana farmers.

The average banana producer is earning approximately $4,200 per year from 0.4 hectares (1 acre), or 800 banana plants. Before USAID interventions farmers were paid low prices due to lack of formal markets and harvested very low yields, the average banana farmer earned less than $200 per year.

A proud female farmer stands in front of her banana farm. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Mary Maparutsa has been a community leader of Murara for more than 20 years and has seen how the project changed lives: “People were not planting bananas on as large a scale as they are today and accepted low yields and low prices because they did not have access to proper production practices, transportation or formal markets. They sold their bananas on the roadside to middlemen that purchased their bananas at a low price and sold them at much higher prices, taking advantage of the small-scale farmers.”

“These middlemen controlled the price because the small-scale farmers had poor yields and no understanding of markets.”

A New Hope

Throughout Murara, a 30-ton Brands Fresh truck is loading bananas from different pick-up points to transport them to Harare, the capital city, for distribution to supermarkets across the country. Brands Fresh is a Zimbabwean buyer active in this area and was the first to be linked to USAID beneficiaries. Now there are several more, and competition among buyers has allowed for more competitive prices that benefit both producers and consumers who have access to better quality bananas.

Throughout Murara, farmers load their bananas onto 30-ton trucks. The bananas are then transported to Harare. / Doreen Hove, USAID

“Currently, bananas are purchased from $0.26 per kilogram for smaller graded fruit and up to $0.32 per kilogram for the largest grade, which is nearly three times higher than the prices before the project,” said Fintrac’s Mark Benzon, who was the banana project’s manager.

Brands Fresh and other buyers have improved the value chain by addressing the transportation problem, which resulted in collecting the bananas at points in close proximity to the farmers’ fields. “Each month we fill up about six 30-ton trucks on average,” says Edward Madewekunze, the local Brands Fresh agronomist. He added that Brands Fresh could easily purchase eight 30-ton trucks of bananas per month, so there is definitely room to grow.

Small-scale farmers now have enough income to buy pipes to connect to water that will irrigate their bananas. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Elias Zvawanewako, another small-scale farmer, said he and others like him used to harvest dismal yields. “We used to individually produce around 30 to 50 kilograms of bananas per month, but now monthly yields over 1,000 kilograms are common. Today, even if you produce a ton of bananas, you feel it’s not enough,” he explained.

Banana production in the area has gone from roughly 2,000 tons in 2011 to more than 27,000 tons in 2017, contributing more than $7.5 million to the rural economy every year.

“Before Zim-AIED, lending institutions were not interested in working with Honde Valley farmers because of the low prospects of successful loan repayments, as income levels were still very low,” said Benzon, referring to the project by its acronym.

Farmers attend to their banana plants. / Doreen Hove, USAID

USAID introduced farmers to Virl Microfinance in 2011, and since then, the lending institution has provided $567,000 in input loans to more than 1,100 farmers. “Bananas have become the main cash crop in Honde Valley, and as a result, more than five banks and microfinance institutions have opened their doors to farmers and created loan packages that meet their needs,” Benzon says.

A Bright Future for Youth

Schools are alive with energetic children, many of whose parents are now commercial banana farmers.

The headmaster for St. Peter’s Mandeya Primary School, Tendayi Musoro said, “Since banana farming started, there has been an increase in the number of children who come to school. Farmers are able to keep their children in school and provide them food and clothes.”

St. Peter’s Mandeya Primary School now has a new classroom block, thanks to the incomes from banana farmers. / Doreen Hove, USAID

After years of economic stagnation, many Zimbabweans left the country to look for work. There is no evidence of young Zimbabweans returning to Honde Valley to take up farming.

Twenty-seven-year-old Amon Zvawanewako returned home from working in South Africa after learning that his family and friends were earning good incomes from small-scale banana farming. Zvawanewako is now a successful banana farmer, earning more than he ever did abroad.

Other entrepreneurial youths are taking advantage of this new industry by starting their own farms and providing instruction to others interested in banana farming. Judah Mukupe, 26, Isaac Kambanje, 32, and Michael Mukupe, 32, are three highly motivated young men who were trained by USAID on good agricultural practices for banana farming. They are now training and assisting other farmers to harvest and load their bananas for a fee.

Amon Zwawanewako and his friend are among the youngest banana farmers in Murara. Zwawanewako returned home from working in South Africa after learning that his family and friends were earning good incomes from small-scale banana farming. / Doreen Hove, USAID

“We noticed that many more farmers wanted to commercialize banana farming and we jumped at the opportunity to train them and earn some income,” said Kambanje. “We earn up to $280 a month through all these small jobs and are slowly starting our own banana plantations. I now have 200 banana plants, and my target is to have about 1,000 banana plants by the end of the year.”

Many other small- and medium-sized businesses, such as supermarkets, farming supply stores, butcheries and hair salons have opened in this region due to the influx of. These businesses provide employment opportunities, especially for youth.

USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Stephanie Funk has observed firsthand how banana farming expanded under USAID support.

“We are excited because this project has changed the lives of an entire community long after our assistance ended,” she said. “It is a true example of how agriculture-led economic growth provides long-term resilience and sustainability. Zim-AIED’s impact can be seen not just in individual farmers but in the entire Honde Valley community.”

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development (Zim-AIED) project began in 2010 with the aim of improving food security and livelihoods for nearly 25,000 people in Honde Valley. It ended in 2015 with 600 farmers trained to grow and sell bananas. Other small farmers saw what happened and followed the lucrative trend. Today, 5,000 commercial farmers from the region are producing bananas for sale in the country.


About the Authors

Doreen Hove is a Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, Adam Silagyi is an Agricultural/Food Security Officer and Emma Siamena is a Program Specialist, all with USAID’s mission in Zimbabwe.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID Frontlines and retrieved on 01/09/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Seeds of Hope

By Neha Khator | USAID| January 8, 2018


Improved seeds and better access to water have proved a winning combination for these Indian farmers.

Three spokes in his back wheel have almost come off, but farmer Kunwar Munda adjusts his feet and continues to cycle. Even as the breeze rushes through his hair, it is never enough to match the scorching sun. Trees and the ground have been burnt stony brown and dry.

After almost an hour of cycling, Munda arrives at a tented location in Mungadih village in Angara block in the eastern state of Jharkhand in India.

This is the third Kisan Mela (Farmer’s Fest) organized by USAID, the Centers for International Projects Trust (CIPT) and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) under the Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood (SAFAL) Program. Hundreds of farmers from across 15 villages have arrived here. Munda parks his cycle next to a large tree and joins a party of known faces from his village as a few hundred farmers continue to pour into the tent.

Among the arriving farmers is 22-year-old Sapna Devi. Unlike Munda, she had to cross a forested mountain on foot to reach the event.

Farmers gathered under a tent to collect their bags of high-yielding rice seeds. / Neha Khator, USAID

The farmers wait in anticipation before officials from the USAID-supported SAFAL project began distributing 1,200 bags of high-yielding rice seeds to the hundreds of farmers that have congregated.

As names are called one-by-one, farmers queue to get their bags, each containing five kilograms of high-yielding rice seeds.

Farmer Kunwar Munda smiles after collecting his bag of rice seeds. / Neha Khator, USAID

As Munda collects his bag and rejoins his group, his face beams with a smile that’s unstoppable.

“I have heard so much about these seeds. Farmers in villages near mine have doubled their crop production since they got these. And even the drought last year did not affect them. It is my turn now,” he says.

Munda, like every farmer in Jharkhand, is trapped in a vicious and complex agricultural quagmire.

The state has a mountain topography, which means that the land here is rocky, uneven and less fertile.

“Out of the state’s entire land mass, only 35 percent is cultivable land,” explains Kamal Vatta, director of CIPT. “And even though Jharkhand receives monsoon rains twice the national average, the state’s [sloping] geography means that 90 percent of the rainwater quickly washes away, leaving the farmers distressed with severe water shortage and periodic droughts.”

To compound these problems, farmers here grow a traditional, low-productive rice variety using farming methods passed on to them through generations. And, like most farmers here, Munda owns only a small plot of land. His father upon his death divided his one acre of farmland among Munda and his four brothers, leaving only one-fifth of the land each to cultivate. As a result, Munda barely produces enough to feed his family beyond six months.

To break this cycle of extreme poverty and food insecurity, USAID organized the first Farmer’s Fest in June 2015. Through this project, 730 farming families were selected from across 10 villages to receive high-yielding rice seeds along with training in modern sowing and farming methods.

Farmer Sapna Devi after receiving her bag of rice seeds. Through this USAID project, 730 farming families were selected to receive high-yielding rice seeds and training in modern farming methods. / Neha Khator, USAID

But seeds alone couldn’t do the magic.

“In India, farming is still rain-fed and rain-dependent. To cultivate a good crop, farmers need assured access to water during the months of shortage. That is why we began building dobhas or small ponds,” says Vatta.

Adobha is a low-cost rainwater harvesting technique where a 10-by-10 foot pit is dug to trap the rainwater.

“Under the SAFAL project, CIPT and agriculture scientists from Birsa University used geospatial mapping to carefully identify rain and water stream patterns to build the dobhas in strategic locations. In the first year, we built 20 such dobhas — two each in the 10 selected villages,” adds Vatta. The farmers then draw the required amount of water from the dobha using a pipe powered by a pump.

The dobha built near farmer Sukhram Bediya’s farm / Neha Khator, USAID

Farmer Sukhram Bediya from Mungadih village proudly shows the dobha built an arms-length from his less than 1-acre farmland. Whereas before he was producing barely 150 to 200 kilograms of rice a year, after utilizing the higher-yielding rice seeds and dobha irrigation technique, his production shot up to 450 kilograms in only a year.

“After I harvested the rice, the project staff provided me vegetable seeds which again turned out very well. I sold the vegetables in the nearby weekly bazaar, and now I earn an average Rs. 1,000 ($16) every week just by selling vegetables,” says Bediya.

Currently, lush green colocasia leaves (cultivated for its nutritious leaves and root) and ripened tomatoes cover his field. These will soon be cleared to be sold at the weekly bazaar and will make way for his next rice crop.

Farmer Sukhram Bediya shows his field. / Neha Khator, USAID

“In the last two years, I have never left my fields empty. I’m producing something throughout the year now,” says Bediya, a new gold-coloured watch reflecting the sun as he smooths his crisp, light-blue shirt with his hands.

With rising farm production came rising incomes, and farmers like Bediya and Bharat Ram, who is from a nearby village, owe their newfound prosperity to the seeds and dobhas backed by USAID.

Bharat Ram’s daughter had just passed her Grade 10 exams the year he made Rs. 15,000 ($244) by selling a bumper cucumber harvest. “From that money, I paid Rs. 5,000 ($77) for her admission fees to enrol her into the Women’s College in Ranchi (the state capital).” Adds Ram with a tone of disbelief: “Who would’ve thought that cucumbers could one day pay for my daughter’s education.”

As these stories of transformed livelihoods travelled across villages far and wide, farmers like Munda and Sapna Devi began joining the SAFAL project. Like Bharat Ram, Munda too wants to send his sons to study in a private school in the city. “They are talented, bright boys and I know they’ll do well for themselves if they get the right education,” says Munda.

In the last two years, the project has built 320 dobhas in 30 villages in the Angara block alone and has enrolled over 2,100 farmers, providing them with access to water and seeds of hope.

The project has been so successful that the local state government has taken notice and plans to drastically ramp up dobha construction going forward.

“Based on the success of our program, the Jharkhand state government has now committed to constructing 500,000 dobhas across the state by 2022, collectively saving 12.5 million cubic meters of rainwater,” says Vatta. The Jharkhand state government’s efforts support the Indian Prime Minister’s flagship national goal of providing “water to every farm” and doubling farmers’ incomes and productivity.

Farmer Sapna Devi, though, has simpler dreams. With the increased farm income, she hopes to buy herself a red saree. “It would look good on me, right?” she asks. “Oh yes, you’ll look very pretty,” giggle her friends from behind.


About the Author

Neha Khator is a development and outreach communications specialist with USAID’s mission in India.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID Frontlines and retrieved on 01/09/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Be Inspired: 10 of USAID’s Best


Here’s how our actions, ideas, and passions helped empower people and expand opportunity around the globe this year

From responding to Hurricane Maria to announcing a unique way to fund our efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, USAID has been busy in 2017 ensuring our assistance to developing countries will have the greatest impact possible.

Check out this list of 10 stories from this year. While we can’t describe all our efforts around the world here, these examples show that aid works.

1. After the Hurricanes

On St. Martin, a member of Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (center) and DART member Anne Galegor (left) help a local resident to fill a water jug with filtered seawater made portable through a reverse osmosis process. The U.S. military produced a total of 83,020 gallons of potable water for St. Martin during its mission. / Ricardo ARDUENGO/AFP

On Sept. 7, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Caribbean — three of the six major storms to form during a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Our disaster experts never imagined they would end up riding out and responding to the devastation caused by three back-to-back hurricanes, including two Category 5 storms. But they did and quickly jumped into action to aid storm survivors. At its height, the DART comprised 54 people deployed to 11 countries. USAID also airlifted more than 185 metric tons to help nearly 84,000 people, representing the best of American generosity. Check out this infographic about the response.

2. Saving Newborns and New Moms

The BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. / BEMPU

USAID and our partners support innovators with groundbreaking ideas to ensure newborns and their mothers survive childbirth. One of these inventions — the BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device — was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. The newborn temperature-monitoring wristband intuitively alerts caregivers if their newborn is losing too much heat, enabling intervention well before complications or death can occur. With our support, the device has helped an estimated 10,000 newborns. We are looking forward to 2030 when this and other innovations could potentially save 150,000 lives.

3. Feeding the Future

Feed the Future is helping to boost food security around the globe.

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s initiative to combat global hunger, announced this year that it is launching its next phase, partnering with 12 countries to focus on promoting long-term, sustainable development. This comes after helping a combined 9 million more people live above the poverty line and 1.8 million more children avoid the devastating results of stunting. Our goal continues to be addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty and helping communities be less dependent on emergency food assistance.

4. Wildlife Trafficking

An elephant is killed every 15 minutes; an average of 96 per day. USAID is committed to stopping environmental crime and protecting the wildlife and human communities that depend on them. / Lara Zanarini, Shutterstock

Protecting endangered species benefit more than the often majestic animals themselves. USAID’s work combating wildlife trafficking, environmental crime and mismanagement of natural resources strengthens the U.S. and international security, rule of law and global economic prosperity. This year we put together the video below to help strengthen law enforcement from parks to ports, reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, facilitate international cooperation and build partnerships.

5. Fighting Hunger

Workers in Ethiopia offload a USAID food donation. The Agency is at the forefront of helping the United States respond to, counter and prevent complex threats and crises around the globe. / Petterik Wiggers, WFP

In four countries — South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen — more than 20 million people are at risk of severe hunger or starvation. In February, officials declared famine in parts of South Sudan, making 2017 the most food-insecure in the country’s history. But a massive humanitarian response by the U.S. Government and the rest of the international community helped roll back that designation just four months later. USAID is continuing to leverage its resources to help the people of South Sudan, and those living in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen respond to natural and man-made disasters.

 

6. Women in Charge

Nanda Pok (left) is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia but keeps busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. She participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. She has shared with she learned with other women entrepreneurs in her country, helping them to start their own businesses. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

USAID supports women entrepreneurs worldwide as catalysts for economic growth and inclusive development. Nanda Pok is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia, but she also keeps herself busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. Nanda participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. Pok believes that when women are economically-empowered, money flows back into businesses and towards the health, education, and well-being of families. And we couldn’t agree more. In Cambodia and across the globe, USAID helps women entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

7. When a Latrine Brings a New Lease on Life

A family works together to install their new Digni-Loo. The entire installation process only takes about 10 minutes. Photo credit: Melissa Burnes, USAID WASH for Health

We live in a water-stressed world. USAID is tackling this issue on a number of fronts, including in Ghana where we piloted installation and use of the Digni-Loo, a latrine that is simple to install, affordable, comfortable and easy to clean. More than 800 million people worldwide still defecate in the open. This results in billions of lost dollars from the global economy due to diarrheal illness and widespread threats to public health, including a heightened risk of global epidemics. This November the Agency and the U.S. State Department launched the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, which outlines ways we can reach 15 million people with clean drinking water and 8 million people with sanitation services.

8. Smart Ways to End World Hunger

Baby Shikari is a rural rice farmer in Bangladesh. After receiving agricultural training, her family eats more nutritious food, shares some with their relatives, and sells the rest at the local market. / Morgana Wingard for USAID

Today, nearly one in 10 people around the world suffer from hunger, and that figure is rising. As we’ve learned over decades, there are no simple solutions. Supporting food security requires much more than filling people’s bellies. We can combat global hunger and malnutrition, but it takes a holistic approach to ensure long-lasting impact. Here are five ways USAID is investing in agriculture and food security to end hunger.

9. Investing in Change

USAID’s new development impact bond could save up to 10,000 moms and newborns. / Project Ujjwal

At the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the launch of the Agency’s first health development impact bond, dubbed the Utkrisht Impact Bond after the Hindi word for “excellence.” Impact bonds are focused on outcomes and can leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. This impact bond — the largest and most ambitious of its kind — aims to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving the quality of maternal care in Rajasthan, India’s health facilities. It is expected to improve access to care for up to 600,000 pregnant women and save up to 10,000 maternal and newborn lives.

10. Meeting Nature’s Wrath with Resilience

Elsie Nambri is a teacher and community activist on Vanuatu. / USAID

When Mt. Yasur Volcano on Vanuatu emits ash, it sometimes damages the community’s crops. And widespread hunger follows. USAID is working with island residents to strengthen resilience so they can bounce back faster from natural disasters. Our work is also helping to elevate women to decision-making roles that are normally reserved for men in these communities. During a recent tropical cyclone, residents broadcasted early warnings on loudspeakers and mobilized disaster committees. This was the first time that the island prepared with concerted and inclusive measures. “This is our land, our ancestors’ land,” said Elsie Nambri, a teacher and community activist here. “Just as we have learned to live with Mount Yasur, I feel we are now ready for anything.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID and retrieved on 12/30/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Rushing to relieve Ethiopia’s shortage of maize and wheat seed

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.24.20 AM
Image Source: CIMMYT Press Releases

on Thursday, 03 March 2016. Posted in Press releases

Ethiopian organizations, USAID, and CIMMYT partner for rapid help to drought-hit farmers
ADDIS ABABA – As government and external agencies marshal food relief for millions facing hunger from Ethiopia’s worst drought in decades, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is leading a major, one-year push to provide drought-hit maize and wheat farmers in Ethiopia with urgently-needed seed to save their next harvest.

With a $3.97 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, CIMMYT is rapidly procuring emergency supplies of maize and wheat seed for free distribution to more than 226,000 households in 67 drought-affected counties of Ethiopia, benefitting more than 1.35 million people who have lost their seed from the lack of rains.

Building on pre-existing efforts funded by USAID under the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, and involving CIMMYT to strengthen maize and wheat seed production and distribution systems in Ethiopia, the project will obtain seed from areas favored by recent good harvests.

Needy farmers will receive enough seed to sow from ¼ to ½ hectare of land – a quarter or more of the typical farmer’s landholding – along with instructional materials about the varieties and best farming practices.

For maize, the project will distribute seed of high-yielding, broadly adapted, drought tolerant varieties developed by CIMMYT and partners in Ethiopia as part of another, long-running initiative whose seed production and marketing efforts are being massively scaled up with USAID support.

The wheat seed for distribution is of high-yielding varieties able to resist Ethiopia’s rapidly-evolving wheat disease strains. According to Bekele Abeyo, CIMMYT wheat breeder/pathologist for Sub-Saharan Africa, who is coordinating the seed relief initiative, procurement will benefit from recently-begun CIMMYT-led work, also with USAID support, to multiply and spread improved wheat seed.

“While addressing the pressing need to have seed before the spring rains, when many families sow, the work also promotes more widespread awareness and use of the latest improved varieties and farming practices,” said Abeyo, who added that all the varieties had been developed using conventional breeding and that most of the seed was being sourced from Ethiopian farmers and seed enterprises.

Wheat and maize to meet rising challenges and demand

Maize and wheat are strategic food crops in Ethiopia, grown on more than 3 million hectares by nearly 14 million households.

High-yielding, resilient wheat varieties from CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), along with supportive government policies and better cropping practices, have caused Ethiopia’s wheat production to more than double in just over a decade, rising from 1.6 million tons during 2003-04 to around 3.9 million tons over the last few years. “Food security has measurably improved in households that have taken up the improved wheat technologies,” according to Abeyo, who also cited rust resistance research led by Cornell University and involving CIMMYT, as instrumental in developing and spreading disease-resistant improved varieties in Ethiopia and in supporting the creation of a global wheat disease monitoring and rapid-response system.

Maize was originally a subsistence staple in Ethiopia, but government policies and research investments have propelled it to become the nation’s second most-widely cultivated crop and the most important source of calories in rural areas. Average national yield has doubled since the 1990s to surpass 3 tons per hectare, the second-highest level of productivity among nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Having worked in Ethiopia since the 1970s, CIMMYT has contributed many improved varieties, including maize with enhanced protein quality that can increase height and weight growth rates in infants and young children. Seed of this maize will also be distributed through the relief initiative.

Seeding a food-secure future

“The partnership with USAID for future food security, livelihoods, and nutrition in Ethiopia perfectly fits CIMMYT’s mission and the aims of long and valued collaborations in the country,” said Martin Kropff, CIMMYT director general. “With partners’ help, we will monitor the uptake, use, and impact of the maize and wheat seed distributed through the initiative.”

“Through years of USAID support and most recently through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with the government of Ethiopia and partners like CIMMYT to build the country’s capacity for lasting food security and resilience to recurring drought,” said Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future. “As the current crisis outstrips Ethiopia’s ability to cope on its own, USAID is committed to helping the country meet immediate needs as well as protect hard-won development gains and speed recovery through efforts like this emergency seed support.”

Partners involved in the seed relief initiative include:

  • Amhara Seed Enterprise.
  • The Agricultural Transformation Agency, Ethiopia.
  • Regional Bureaus of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Ethiopian Seed Enterprise.
  • Farmer cooperative unions.
  • Federal and regional research institutes.
  • Oromia Seed Enterprise.
  • Private seed companies.
  • Southern Seed Enterprise.

For more information

Mike Listman, CIMMYT communications, email at m.listman@cgiar.org, mobile at +52 1 595 1149 743. Geneviève Renard, head of CIMMYT communications, email at g.renard@cgiar.org, mobile at +52 1 595 114 9880.

About CIMMYT

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), is the global leader in research for development in wheat and maize and wheat- and maize-based farming systems. From its headquarters in Mexico and 14 global offices, CIMMYT works throughout the developing world with hundreds of partners to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems, thus contributing to better food security and livelihoods. CIMMYT is a member of the 15-member CGIAR Consortium and leads the CGIAR Research Programs on Wheat and Maize. CIMMYT receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks and other public and private agencies.

About Feed the Future

Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and under-nutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) on March 3, 2016 and was retrieved on March 3, 2016 and reposted here at INDESEEM for educational and information purposes only. The views and content of the post remains solely the intellectual property of the CIMMYT. Please cite the original source accordingly.


Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP)

Source: http://borlaugleap.org/eligibility

Program Description

The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP) is currently accepting applications from sub-Saharan African students conducting research on topics related to the US Government’s global hunger initiative — Feed the Future.  All topics related to agriculture (as defined by Title XII) and the Feed the Future initiative are admissible.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Borlaug LEAP offers fellowships to enhance the quality of thesis research of graduate students from developing countries who show strong promise as leaders in the field of agriculture and related disciplines.  The program supports engaging a mentor at a US university and a CGIAR center.

Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show strong scientific and leadership potential, have a well coordinated proposal between their home university, a US university mentor, and the CGIAR mentor, and whose research has relevance to the national development of the student’s home country or region.

FUNDING

The award level is US$20,000 for a maximum of one year. The funds are administered as a grant to the US university mentor. Grant funds can be used to support a variety of research needs including student’s travel to the research site, research support at the CGIAR or US university, and US faculty member travel to the research site to mentor the student in collaboration with a CGIAR scientist.  Funds should not be used to pay tuition or salaries.

THE FELLOWSHIP

The program supports internships for up to 12 months. Internships can be at the CGIAR, US graduate-level university or a combination of appropriate institutions. Students are encouraged to creatively plan an internship that best suits their educational needs and circumstances.  A minimum of three months should be spent at any one location.

Eligibility

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

An eligible candidate for a Borlaug LEAP fellowship must be

  • a citizen of a USAID-assisted country.  Currently we are only accepting applications from citizens of USAID-assisted countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  Applicants cannot hold citizenship or permanent residency in the US and/or any non-USAID assisted country. This includes applicants with dual citizenship.
  • currently enrolled as an MS or PhD student at a US or sub-Saharan Africa developing country university. Candidates must maintain student status for the duration of the fellowship.
  • fluent in reading, writing and speaking English. All semi-finalists must provide a TOEFL or IELTS score taken within the past year.  Only applicants enrolled at U.S. universities are exempt from this requirement.  Minimum acceptable scores are:  TOEFL, 550 (paper test); 80 (internet-based test).  IELTS (academic modules), minimum of 7 on a 9-point scale.

In addition, eligible candidates will have

  • completed at least one year of graduate level course work in the graduate program the applicant is currently enrolled in with a US equivalent grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
  • a thesis-topic related to agricultural development and related fields. Title XII legislation broadly defines agriculture as:

“…the science and practice of activity related to food, feed, and fiber production, processing, marketing, distribution, utilization, and trade, and also includes family and consumer sciences, nutrition, food science and engineering, agricultural economics and other social sciences, forestry, wildlife, fisheries, aquaculture, floriculture, veterinary medicine, and other environmental and natural resources sciences.”

Successful candidates must:

  • agree to return to their country of citizenship for a minimum of two years following graduation.
  • remain enrolled as an MS or PhD student and have student status at their university for the duration of their fellowship.
  • See Conditions of Training for more information
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BE A MENTOR?

An eligible US mentor must be:

  • a faculty member at a US graduate level university.
  • conducting research related to or complementary of the student’s research topic.
  • eligible at his/her institution to supervise graduate students.
  • eligible at his/her institution to serve as Principal Investigator on the fellowship award.
  • willing to make the time commitment to mentor the student.

An eligible CGIAR mentor must be:

Application Deadline: April 6, 2016

Fall 2014 Call for Applications for U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security

Source:URL:http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/food/index.php
Source:URL:http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/food/index.php

October 1, 2014

Program Description:

The program is generously funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with an aim to boost the number of future leaders and decision-makers who have the scientific base needed to effectively study and promote sustainable food systems. The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program is implemented by the Purdue University Center for Global Food Security.

This program supports exceptional U.S. graduate students conducting research on topics related to USAID’s global hunger and food security initiative—Feed the Future. All topics that relate to food security and are linked to the research strategies of the Feed the Future initiative are eligible. Applicants must focus their food security related graduate research in a single, developing country context and collaborate with a mentor from an International Agricultural Research Center (IARC), or a qualifying National Agricultural Research System (NARS) unit. Two application cycles are held annually, in the Spring and Fall semesters.

Award Benefits:

Grants for 6-month long international research stays have a maximum value of USD 15,000. Grants for 1-year long international research stays have a maximum value of USD 20,000. Grants for 2-year long international research stays have a maximum value of USD 40,000. Students are expected to stay in the host country for the majority of the time (85%) with some time available for short-term absences. Year long research grants may be split into two, 6- month long stays over a period of no more than 18 months. Grant funds are not intended to cover all costs of the proposed research, and applicants are expected to leverage additional funding in support of their graduate work. Additional state-side support upon completion of field research can also be requested for a period of up to 4 months.

Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. graduate program.

To Apply:

Submit a completed application by Monday, November 10, 2014, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time to borlaugfellows@purdue.edu. Application instructions and forms are available online.

Application Form
Project Narrative
Budget, Budget Justification & Project Timeline Form
Proof of Citizenship
Institutional letters of support from the submitting university and participating IARC/NARC
Letter of approval from submitting university’s sponsored programs office
Two letters of recommendation
Review of Applications:

Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show strong scientific foundation and possess leadership potential, propose a well-coordinated research plan that clearly articulates concepts and objectives that are innovative and feasible, and demonstrate a commitment to international development. A selection committee will review applications and the top-ranked applicants may be interviewed before a final selection is made. Applicants will be notified of their status by December 22, 2014.

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Contact Details

Pamela McClure
borlaugfellows@purdue.edu
(765) 494-5441
More Information

U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program

Purdue Center for Global Food Security awards 31 research grants on US student projects

April 28, 2014

Purdue Center for Global Food Security awards 31 research grants on US student projects

Gebisa Ejeta
Gebisa Ejeta
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University research center committed to helping the next generation strengthen international development and solve the global food insecurity problem is awarding $608,341 in grants to graduate students at 19 U.S. universities.

As part of the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program, the Purdue Center for Global Food Security announced Monday (April 28) 31 research grants to graduate and doctoral student projects in 17 countries.

The U.S. Agency for International Development funds the program. The grants are intended to give exceptional students the opportunity to conduct field research overseas in developing countries. The 2014 Borlaug Fellows come from 19 universities, including Purdue, and were awarded grants ranging from $15,000 to $40,826.

“From examining grain market price stabilization in Nigeria to investigating soil nitrogen depletion in Africa, this year’s recipients are using their cross-cultural, interdisciplinary knowledge and their personal leadership skills to finding solutions for achieving global food security,” said distinguished agronomy professor Gebisa Ejeta, director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security in Discovery Park.

“We are impressed with the quality of the students and their research problems. We look forward to helping these bright leaders of tomorrow establish long-term research collaborations and preparing them to take on this most fundamental global agenda.”

The four funded projects led by Purdue graduate students are:

* Patrick Hatzenbuehler – Grain market prize stabilization and household response: Food security and Nigerian grain markets in Nigeria.

* Heather Pasley – Investigation of possible soil nitrogen depletion when maize hybrids with superior NUE are grown in African soils in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

* Elizabeth Trybula – Crop water productivity response to conservation agriculture in South Africa.

* Caitlin Grady – Evaluation of program effectiveness: The case of “research for development” and food security in the Mekong River Basin in Laos.

The other 27 funded student-led projects, their universities and the country are listed below:

Africa

* Patrick Bell, Ohio State University – Sustainable intensification for improving soil quality and adaption to climate change for smallholder farmers in the Uluguru Mountain of Tanzania.

* Anne-Elizabeth Cafer, University of Missouri – Sowing and reaping: A socio-cultural investigation of farmers’ adoption of improved management practices in South Wollo, Ethiopia.

* Lance Goettsch, Iowa State University – Practical methods to alleviate edaphic constraints to common bean production in Masaka, Uganda.

* Chesney McOmber, University of Florida – Gendering the impacts of climate change: Comparative analysis of migration and empowerment in agricultural communities in Morocco and Kenya.

* Rachel Miller, Cornell University – Working toward development of an improved vaccine for CBPP: Enhancing livestock’s role in achieving food security in Kenya.

* Amy Quandt, University of Colorado, Boulder – Building livelihood resilience in semiarid Kenya: What role does agroforestry play in Kenya?

* Kathleen Tavenner, Pennsylvania State University – Co-management regimes in protected areas of South Africa: Implications of gender equity in the forest-food security nexus in South Africa.

*­ Anna Testen, Ohio State University – Establishing a village-based soil and plant health-monitoring program for tomato in Tanzania.

* Sarah Stefanos, University of Wisconsin, Madison – Bioslurry as fertilizer in Uganda.

* Stephen Wood, Columbia University – Understanding the role of agricultural biodiversity in promoting human nutrition and ecological sustainability in Senegal.

* Kayla Yurco, Pennsylvania State University – When the cows come home: Pastoral livelihoods, nutrition, and food security in southern Kenya.

* David Brynes, Rutgers University – Selection of vegetable amaranth for high-yield, multiple harvests, high-nutrition and minimal anti-nutritive components in Tanzania.

* Nathan Clay, Pennsylvania State University – Transitioning agrarian livelihoods and ecologies in Rwanda.

* John Connors, Arizona State University – Agricultural intensification and sustainable livelihoods in Tanzania.

* Emma Flemming, Virginia Tech University – Characterization of genetic resources and food security status of smallholder farms in post-conflict South Sudan.

* Christian Guzman, Cornell University – Collaborative soil and water management for enhanced agricultural productivity in the Ethiopian Highlands.

* Nicolas Jelinski, University of Minnesota – Capturing dynamic soil properties across global agricultural systems to support sustainable intensification and food security initiatives in Kenya.

* Andrew Margenot, University of California, Davis – Integrating soil quality as a function of smallholder management strategies to secure food production of East Africa in Kenya and Tanzania.

* Tyler Rundel, University of Florida – Smallholder adoption of indigenous fruit trees in Cameroon.

Asia

* Erin Biehl, Johns Hopkins University – Using cost of diet analysis to link agricultural interventions and nutritional status in rural Nepal.

* Margaret Rose Douglas, Pennsylvania State University – Reversing the pesticide treadmill: Safe and effective management of key insect pests of lablab bean (Lablab purpureus) using biopesticides and natural enemies in Bangladesh.

* Claire Fitch, Johns Hopkins University – Farming for health: Leveraging small-scale agriculture for nutrition and food security in Nepal.

* John Laborde, University of Nebraska, Lincoln – Crop-livestock integration in a conservation agriculture system: Intercropped forages to meet crop residue demands and reduce weed pressure in Nepal.

* Jenkins Macedo, Clark University – Enhancing soil nutrients and water conservation through sustainable farming techniques in Laos.

Central America

* Levi Keesecker, University of Idaho – Sustaining bee pollinators in agricultural landscapes to enhance food security: Pollination services provided by wild bees originating from remnant forests in Costa Rica.

* Hector Tavarez Vargas, University of Idaho – Alleviating water scarcity in seasonally dry rural Costa Rica: The value of ecosystem service co-benefits from reforestation in Costa Rica.

South America

* Libby Rens, University of Florida – Increasing sustainability of potato production with restricted water and nutrient resources in Peru.

The program is dedicated to Norman E. Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent figure in the “green revolution.” Borlaug developed a disease-resistant wheat variety and is credited for his work saving lives and preventing hunger.

Along with the fellowship grant, the Center for Global Food Security also hosts the Summer Institute on Global Food Security. Through discussions with cross-disciplined experts, this two-week learning program provides the working knowledge need to solve world problems. Sixty-six students from 33 universities have participated in the 2012 and 2013 summer institutes.

The Center for Global Food Security was launched Purdue’s Discovery Park in 2010 to address an increasing challenge: to make sure there is enough food, feed and fuel for a growing world population.

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Brooke Fruits, 260-927-4371, bfruits@purdue.edu

Sources: Gebisa Ejeta, 765-494-4320, gejeta@purdue.edu

Gary Burniske, 765-494-0941, grburniske@purdue.edu

Source: PSGFS. 2014 http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/purdue-center-for-global-food-security-awards-31-research-grants-on-us-student-projects.html

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