The Executive Director of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr. Canisius Kanangire, has said the foundation has championed the facilitation of access and delivery of quality and affordable agricultural technologies to African smallholder farmers that enhance productivity and improve their incomes.
Kanangire made the observation in a presentation to the 2021 Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Policy Dialogue entitled, “Technologies to improve supply of diverse, safe and nutritious food across the value chains.”
“At AATF, we continue to witness the transformative power of technologies when placed in the hands of smallholder farmers,” he said.
“Through the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative driven by AATF, over 120 climate-smart, drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize varieties have been released. These varieties are suited to different agro-ecological zones and with the potential to increase maize yields by 40-60 per cent,” he said. AATF and partners in Nigeria released the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea variety, the first GM food crop to be released for cultivation outside South Africa. The product is resistant to the pest called Maruca pod borer which has the potential to reduce production by up to 80 per cent.
“Cowpea production is expected to increase through the control of Maruca pod borer. The benefits derived from the product include bumper harvests, higher incomes, and improved nutrition and health through reduced use of harmful insecticides. Farmers will now be assured of better health, especially regarding lower use of chemicals from eight sprays to only two.
The ED also said that AATF is in the vanguard of encouraging mechanisation and agroprocessing through its Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-Processing Project (CAMAP) and AgriDrive.
“The CAMAP project managed to bring over 65,300 hectares under mechanisation within five years in Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia, benefitting over 850,000 smallholder farmers, majority of them women and youths who usually provide labour for cassava production,” he said.
Kanangire said that farmers who tried out mechanising their farms under CAMAP had reported increased harvests from 7-9 MT/ha to over 25 MT/ha, an increase of over 200 per cent. The farmers also increased their earnings five-fold from $350 per ha to over $1,800 per hectare due to better quality tubers, increased yields and greater market linkages.
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