Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More effective international aid for African agriculture

16.03.2007
What is the aim of the AIDA project?

In Africa today, 75-80% of the population live in rural areas. For 30 years, very little international aid has been given to those who live primarily from farming. Yet, Africans have continued to struggle to cultivate. They have taken the initiative on many occasions and have sometimes been successful. With the AIDA project, we want to survey and analyse the success stories. We are interested in both the successes and the failures, because it is important to know why some initiatives have not worked.

How will you proceed?

We are going to draw up a list of successes and failures and compile case studies. It is important for us to listen to rural communities and to be active and flexible. We will also identify primarily national scientists and students—agronomists, socio-economists and climate change specialists—in order to put together teams. The project should only last for two years. However, it will provide the basis for others. During the two years, a database of the various initiatives will be created so that applied research and development needs can be identified. We also need to ensure that the results are disseminated and used. In this way, we should be able to indicate how to make the initiatives more effective.

Why and how can the project achieve more today than previous ones? What makes it different?

It is a question of circumstance. Recently, there was tremendous media coverage of two famines in Niger (2005) and Kenya (2006), which had a real impact on people. Political leaders were challenged. We have been providing aid to Africa for 30 years. Yet today, the situation is perhaps even worse than it was in the 70s for Africans in dry zones. Parallel to that, the information available on climate change shows that the latter exacerbates the situation in fragile zones. Moreover, it is important to add the Millennium Development Goals, particularly that of halving poverty between now and 2015, the "alter" movements and the global social forums. Ideas are circulating, people are asking questions and politicians are reacting¡­ at last. As a result, we have been able to develop a new partnership with East Africa in the form of a European project and an international conference. This was achieved in 10 months with a small, highly motivated team. I think it is a record for an initiative of this kind.

Have you started assessing the initiatives?

Yes, the conference meant that we have already been able to survey over 70 cases. We can now start to draw up an initial database. The initiatives are very varied, even within a relatively limited geographical area. They involve traditional techniques (which are sometimes ancestral), that have been improved by farmers who have received no aid.

Can you give us some examples?

Zai is a technique used for the retention of water runoff which was long considered to be trivial. It consists of digging holes in the ground which are then filled with manure or compost. The process is very labour intensive when done by hand. However, when it is mechanized, as in the case of a province in Burkina Faso, the operation is seven times faster.

The development of cactus in Ethiopia is another example. Cactus is resistant to water shortages, high temperatures and low soil fertility. Cactus fruit was previously consumed by only the poorest people during periods of famine and drought. Today, it is grown as a crop and is available on the market.

How has the project been received?

People are very enthusiastic. The initial conference, which took place in Ghana from 22-24 January, brought together over 50 African scientists, political representatives and sponsors, namely, the European Union and the FAO. The national scientists were delighted. They have supported these "ancestral initiatives" for a long time. However, their value has only been demonstrated on rare occasions. The summaries from 80 participants were received in less than two months, an excellent achievement for this type of event, which is usually prepared about a year in advance. The success was truly apparent when we realised that all the participants, without exception, had expressed themselves on the subject.

How about the financial aspects of the project?

The project is financed by the European Union to a value of 300 000 euros. Here again, we need to be active and find complementary funding. However, we are optimistic!

Danièle Clavel is a geneticist and a drought specialist who began her career at CIRAD in 1986, as part of the maize breeding projects in Ivory Coast, then in Madagascar. She subsequently lived in Senegal for ten years, where she worked on groundnut. She is involved in numerous European projects. AIDA is the third European project that she has coordinated.

Helen Burford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cirad.fr/en/actualite/communique.php?id=657

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops
17.01.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

nachricht Robotic weeders: to a farm near you?
10.01.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>