Sustainability in Food

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Improving Global Nutrition One Crop at a Time

ABS_CropLife_QA_DPPioneer_02While sorghum provides a large amount of carbohydrates for local diets, it is naturally nutrient deficient. As a result of tireless research efforts, the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) initiative has achieved the important research breakthrough of dramatically increasing Vitamin-A in sorghum. The initiative is well on its way to strengthening the nutritional profile of sorghum with iron and zinc as well.

Dr. Marc Albertsen, DuPont Pioneer Research Director and ABS Research Leader, sat down for a Q&A with CropLife International’s Plant Science Post newsletter editor to discuss the innovation behind the ABS initiative, partnership model and who will be most impacted.

“Just two weeks ago, I was in an African village meeting with local farmers. At first, I was quite impressed by the local children I presumed were one and two-years-old: they were running around and playing enthusiastically. Then I realized these children were actually closer to four years old. Because of the poor nutritional quality of their diets, these children were at the developmental stage of toddlers. It was a striking example of the very people who will be the most impacted by this project.” ~ Dr. Marc Albertsen, DuPont Pioneer Research Director and ABS Research Leader

Advancing Food Security in Malawi & Ghana

Smallholder Women Farmers in Malawi

A few weeks ago, the Women’s International Networking (WIN) Conference in Berlin brought together female leaders from all over the world, and little did they know how they would end up impacting lives a continent away.

“With this year’s participation at WIN, DuPont used the platform to advocate for farming in Malawi where 70 percent of agricultural work is done by women,” said Ana Somolinos, DuPont EMEA Organizational Vibrancy Champion and Project Leader for the WIN Conference. “We used a digital campaign at the stand to encourage visitors to show their support, each click represented 12,500 maize plants. Over 200 visitors supported the campaign!”

WomenFarmers_01As a result of this campaign, DuPont donated 1.5 tons of maize seed to women farmers in Malawi through Gift of the Givers Foundation, Africa’s leading disaster relief organization of Africa origin, who will further handle the distribution to the farmers in the country, advancing women farmers in Malawi in terms of food security. Watch a video about the donation here.

“This effort conforms to the DuPont philosophy that although science is universal – solutions have to be implemented at a local level,” Somolinos explained.

“We believe this donation will go further to address the issue of lack of good seed especially among the 320 resource-poor rural farmers who will receive the seed,” said Felix Jalasi of the Gift of the Givers Foundation.

DuPont is committed to improving rural communities through target collaborations and investments that strengthen agricultural systems and make food more available, nutritious and culturally appropriate.

GAMSAP – Improving Smallholder Farmer Productivity in Ghana

To help improve the productivity of smallholder maize farmers in Ghana, recently the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and DuPont Pioneer launched the Ghana Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (GAMSAP). The program will encourage a network of farmer dealers to use agriculture best practice production techniques. The investment will total more than US $4 million over the next four years.

The program is modeled on a similar one undertaken in Ethiopia by ACDI-VOCA, the organization that will implement the program in Ghana. GAMSAP aims to:

  • Increase adoption of hybrid maize seed and related good agricultural practices to increase productivity and profitability;
  • Improve input supply chain to improve farmer access to improved technology
  • Improve post-harvest handling practices; and
  • Increase market linkages with end buyers.

The program will seek partners with other input providers, farm machinery suppliers and local aggregators and processors of maize to provide markets for maize.

“High quality seed (both local and international) is a key to the modernization and profitability of the agricultural sector. This partnership is designed to demonstrate the benefits of these new varieties and encourage farmers to invest in their businesses with productivity-boosting technologies,” said the USAID Ghana Mission Director, Jim Bever.

Ghana’s agriculture is dominated by small scale producers, with average farm sizes of about 1.2 hectares and low use of technology. Maize smallholder farmers also account for over 80 percent of production, though their yield per hectare averages around 1.5 tons per hectare, which is significantly below the average 2 tons per hectare of maize yields in Africa and 10 tons per hectare in the U.S. By adopting hybrid seed and using improved farming inputs and techniques, participating farmers will be able to achieve significant productivity gains and increased profitability.

Achieving a Food and Nutrition Secure World

Jo Luck, 2010 World Food Prize Laureate, former President of Heifer International and member of the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity, has dedicated her career to ensuring global food security by advocating for smallholder farmers and empowering women. On October 14, the eve of International Day for Rural Women and the opening of the 2014 Borlaug Dialogue, she penned an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register, Empowering Women to Feed the World. In it she discusses the importance of embracing and nurturing the potential of women smallholder farmers in the challenge of food and nutrition security.

Through access to tools, extension services, land and capital, women can transform the world’s ability to sustainably feed the planet and tackle the full spectrum of malnutrition, which is affecting the lives of so many of our children.
~ Jo Luck

Read the full article here.


PaulSchickler_WFPPublic Private Partnerships Discussed at Borlaug Dialogue

At day two of the 2014 Borlaug Dialogue, DuPont Pioneer President, Paul Schickler participated in a panel discussion, Focus on Africa, Policy and Partnerships.

A dynamic discussion followed brief remarks by Birtukan Dagnachew, a smallholder farmer from Ethiopia. Public-private-partnerships was a consistent theme of the panel.

In his remarks, Schickler emphasized education, partnerships and investment to promote agricultural productivity and development in Africa.

When asked about DuPont Pioneer partnerships and efforts in the region, he highlighted the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP), a collaboration with the government of Ethiopia and USAID to advance the agricultural development and food security goals set by the government of Ethiopia; a project with the National 4-H Council to strengthen youth development in rural African communities; and the establishment of a research hub in Delmas, South Africa for advanced seed breeding.

Schickler further emphasized that collaboration with smallholder farmers is crucial to improve agriculture productivity and livelihoods, saying that Pioneer can learn as much from local communities as people can learn from Pioneer in terms in global science and technology.

Joining Schickler on the panel were,

  • Moderator: Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO and Head of Mission, FANRPAN, Moderator
  • Birtukan Dagnachew, Smallholder farmer, Ethiopia
  • Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture, Liberia
  • Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture, Rwanda
  • Joseph Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture, Sierra Leone

The 2014 Borlaug Dialogue is an international symposium that brings together in Des Moines, Iowa, agricultural leaders from around the world. This year, the Dialogue is addressing, The Greatest Challenge in Human History: Can We Sustainably Feed the 9 Billion People on Our Planet by Year 2050? Video recordings from the proceedings will be available on The World Food Prize soon.

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