A cross-continental partnership improves smallholder farmers’ lives

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A cross-continental partnership improves smallholder farmers’ lives

27 MARCH 2015 – Science is the pillar of improvement, and agriculture is the pillar of food security. Through the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace programme, both of those pillars come together to improve small farmers' lives across two continents, in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Scientists from Africa and Latin America gather at Agricultural Innovation Marketplace. ©FARA

Agriculture is vital to the economies of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. Farmers in these countries face not only similar challenges but also similar climates, ecosystems, agricultural practices and culture. All of that makes it possible to share knowledge and technology widely across the two continents – and Brazil is central to the effort.

Over the years, Brazil's policies, research, development and experience in fostering agricultural growth have yielded positive and lasting results, with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation playing a key role in these achievements. The Agricultural Innovation Market Place takes advantage of this success and tries to push it forward, researching which innovations have the most potential for adaptation. The Marketplace then involves scientists in providing technological solutions to problems faced by smallholder farmers. It also strives to build bridges for a more effective south-south exchange of knowledge and technical cooperation.

Eventually, the expectation of this initiative is that new-found solutions, undertaken through collaborative research for development, will be implemented on a large scale and contribute to reducing poverty in Africa and Latin America.

An open, collaborative model
Co-led by the EMBRAPA and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and co-funded by IFAD, the initiative includes the participation of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and other partners such as the World Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Supporting honey bee production in Ethiopia. ©Agricultural Innovation Marketplace

Scientists from Africa and Latin America submit individual research projects to the Agricultural Innovation Marketplace, which implements a two-step selection process. Top ranked pre-proposals are requested to develop full proposals, and the best are selected for financing.

The projects focus on four top priority thematic areas:

  • Productivity-enhancing technologies
  • Natural resource management improvements
  • Policy, institutional and market strengthening and knowledge management
  • Smallholder and poverty-alleviation targeted technologies.

A highly collaborative operating model ensures that the Marketplace is not merely focused on transferring technology but, rather, on engaging researchers in a dialogue and exchange of skills to carry out adaptive studies of solutions already applied in Brazil, as well as innovative research of common interest.

The programme has a strong policy dialogue component between African and Brazilian decision-makers, as well as between research and development institutions, to develop a common cooperation agenda.

Enhancing productivity
While it is too early to evaluate the initiative's impact on poverty reduction in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, the collaborative south-south exchange among researchers has made an important contribution to knowledge-sharing and the development of technical solutions for African communities.

Scientific innovations help small farmers in Africa improve their lives. ©Agricultural Innovation Marketplace

Since 2010, the Marketplace has supported 53 projects in Africa and 13 in Latin America and the Caribbean. Approximately 60 per cent of all approved proposals are related to productivity-enhancing technologies. A total of 42 scientists participate in the projects in Brazil, with a similar number of researchers in the African countries. Overall, 33 different organizations in Africa are involved in the approved projects.

Some of the results achieved so far include:

  • Development of new technologies and policy for honey bee production in Ethiopia
  • Identification of the cotton volatiles that are responsible for the attraction of a major cotton pest
  • Determination of the level of soil and groundwater pesticide contamination in Togo
  • Transfer of Napier grass elite lines.

Technical as they may sound, these scientific innovations help small