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Legal Counsel for the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alhaji Tejan-Cole, explains what his organization is doing to help farmers in Africa increase productivity, profitability and sustainability to reverse the continent’s food deficit.
Experts have long agonized over how to produce higher crop yields and more nutritious foods from poor soils, to make food affordable for and accessible to Africa’s expanding population./p>
As African farming is largely smallholder-based and most farmers still use inefficient practices that take a lot from the soil but give little in return, the prognosis is gloomy. With the current faith in market-based solutions, many of them can only slip into deeper poverty and deprivation.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says that every 10 percent increase in smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa can lift almost 7 million people above the dollar-a-day poverty line.
Proprietary technologies to improve the drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance, yield potential and nutrient content of food crops are already being exploited in developed countries, with research companies coming up with better technologies every day.
While most smallholders in Africa seem resigned to the hit-or-miss character of their livelihood, they are keen to adopt new proprietary technology options where the right incentives and market opportunities exist.
With this in mind, the AATF was established to help small-scale farmers access and use these proprietary technologies to attain food security and reduce poverty.
The Art of the Deal
What do the following have in common? DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION I PDF
All these are major African crops with major problems that require urgent attention in order to meet food security and economic development needs and that AATF is involved in addressing through focused partnerships with technology owners, researchers, agribusiness, and governments. You learn about the crops referred to in the pages in this book.
AATF itself owns no research fields, laboratories or patents. Instead, AATF staff work with more than 80 research, technology, policy, government, and NGO partners to connect ideas and agreements, people and technologies to ensure that what comes out of laboratories can be developed into excellent tools for smallholder farmers in Africa. AATF and partners also ensure that these technologies get approved by policymakers and regulators, get produced by local agribusinesses and are made available to smallholder farmers. This in turn enables farmers to produce high-yielding, high quality staples and other crops and enjoy higher income and food security.
The solutions may be a disease-resistant banana, drought-tolerant maize seed, insect pest-resistant cowpea, special machines for planting and harvesting cassava, a deal with commercial seed companies or a study tour for policy makers to better understand biotechnology. In each case, AATF is contributing to solving tough problems to help African farmers improve yield, income, and lives.
We focus on more than the value chain. We work on a value “web” linking not only farmers, input dealers and markets – but also research institutes, private companies, technology developers, royalty-holders, machinery assemblers, policy makers, and the media.
We are the “honest brokers”: persuading, negotiating, advocating, getting permissions, licensing, sub-licensing, arranging for royalties or royalty-free arrangements.
The following pages introduce ten projects in ten countries, and includes reminiscences on the organisation’s founding and thoughts on where it’s going.
We hope you enjoy the tour.
This report presents results of a baseline study on the constraints and opportunities of maize production in the Western Region of Kenya. The aim of the study was to provide baseline information that would set the basis for measuring progress and impact of the project on the livelihoods of the target population. Its objective was to determine the current status of livelihoods within the project areas by looking at various indicators of livelihoods such as household demographics; access to land, input use, and crop production; decision-making process in farming; Striga and Striga control technologies; vulnerability; capital assets; and livelihood strategies and outcomes, and explore opportunities and constraints affecting maize production in the project areas. One thousand two hundred (1200) households randomly selected from 12 districts were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Data from the study was analyzed using descriptive statistics and multiple regression.
The study found out that high proportions of households are male-headed households with the proportion of female-headed households in Nyanza being higher than in the Western region. The average age of household head was 49 years with average formal schooling of eight years and household size of six. About 60% of household heads work full-time on the farm. Household land holdings are small and mostly used for the production of annual crops especially maize. Household members over 60 years of age are the ones working mostly full time on the farm. More women than men belong to and participate in the leadership of social groups. In addition most household members belong to women groups, development committees, and credit and savings groups.
The main source of funding for farming aspects among the households is proceeds from sale of farm produce which include maize. All key farming related decisions in the households are made by both the household head and the spouse except the decision on the acreage of land to plant. Input use levels are low and vary inter-province.
Striga is ranked as the number one production constraint in maize production and is severe among 50% of households sampled. In terms of severity, Striga currently claims over 40% of the households’ maize crop. Over 80% of the households use the uprooting method to control Striga in their farms. About 50% of the households use organic and inorganic fertilizers. The use of control technologies like Imazapyr-resistant (IR) maize is less than 5% among farmers. The main reasons for non-adoption of Striga control measures among the households is inadequate information on the technologies and their high costs. The model on determinants of maize production showed that the level of usage of organic fertilizer influences maize production level.
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Nairobi, Kenya. E-mail: G.Marechera@aatf-africa.org
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Nairobi, Kenya. E-mail: email@example.com
* Corresponding author
Aflatoxin contamination in maize and maize products is a major problem in Kenya, especially in the lower eastern part, where crop losses and human fatalities have been reported. Using a pre-tested questionnaire, 480 households were surveyed in the area, which has been identified as a “hotspot” for the lethal Aspergillus flavus strain S. This study aimed to estimate the potential adoption of Aflasafe, a new aflatoxin control technology that is currently being field-tested in Kenya, Burkina Faso and Senegal. The study found an adoption potential of 82%, which suggests that Aflasafe is likely to command a large market in lower eastern Kenya. The main factors that significantly influenced (positively or negatively) farmers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for Aflasafe were: formal education, farmer type, household income, and county of residence in Kenya. The uptake of Aflasafe could be enhanced through extension services and short-term subsidies.
Activities to scale up the Nitrogen-Use Efficient (NUE), Water-Use Efficient (WUE and Salt Tolerant (ST) Rice project to Nigeria kicked off early this year with the signing of a collaboration agreement between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the Nigeria’s National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI). Nigeria becomes the third project country after Ghana and Uganda. During the period, partners in Nigeria identified a confined field trial (CFT) site at NCRI in Badeggi. The site was inspected by the country’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) in June 2014 who recommended its approval by the Ministry of Environment. To enable NCRI to carry out the CFT, approval was granted for it to carry out biotechnology work and its Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) inaugurated by the NBC. The team also initiated the CFT application process to seek approval from the country’s NBC to conduct trials during 2014.
The cultivation of rice in Africa dates back more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, African rice is not of the same origin as Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) but rather is an entirely different species (i.e., Oryza glaberrima Steud.). Here we present a high-quality assembly and annotation of the O. glaberrima genome and detailed analyses of its evolutionary history of domestication and selection. Population genomics analyses of 20 O. glaberrima and 94 Oryza barthii accessions support the hypothesis that O. glaberrima was domesticated in a single region along the Niger river as opposed to noncentric domestication events across Africa. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, as well as with a set of O. glaberrima genes orthologous to O. sativa genes that are known to be associated with domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes.
C. Taracha, F. Nangayo, G. Ombakho, J. Machuka
Tissue culture and regeneration of tropical maize has been achieved in only a limited number of genotypes, because majority of tropical maize germplasm is recalcitrant to in vitro response. Establishment of a highly efficient and widely used tissue culture system for maize will accelerate the application of transformation technology in breeding programs, and the study of the functions of maize specific genes. Three culture media were evaluated, it was established that two media could guarantee the production and proliferation of embryogenic calli with high regeneration capacity from immature zygotic embryos representing different maize germplasm. The results suggest that the evaluated tissue system could facilitate the introduction of foreign genes into regenerable Elite Kenyan Highland inbred maize
The Maruca resistant cowpea project made significant progress during 2012 towards its goal of developing Maruca resistant cowpeas for use by our smallholder farmers. For the second year running, the confined field trials in Nigeria and Burkina Faso were successful with strong indication that the project may have identified promising varieties that are resistant to the Maruca pod borer.
Identifying resistant plants is a significant milestone in product development of agricultural biotechnology because these plants will be used to incorporate the traits into farmer-preferred varieties through breeding.
Evaluation of the Maruca-resistant cowpea varieties progressed well in Nigeria and Burkina Faso as Ghana was granted approval by the country's National Biosafety Committee (NBC), the regulatory authority for development of biotechnology in Ghana, to conduct confined field trials in the country.