Pests, pandemics, climate extremes, crop losses, high production costs ─ these are all constraints with which food producers in East and Southern Africa must increasingly contend. This trend flies in the face of the fact that smallholder agricultural growth must increase in the region, not only to address hunger and nutrition deficiencies, but also to help foster economic growth in rural areas, thus reducing poverty, improving food security and stabilizing the food system. With more than 70% of the rural population in East and Southern Africa depending on agriculture for livelihoods, multiple shocks are increasing vulnerabilities that affect already inadequate food production and distribution systems and increase food insecurity for most countries in the region.
To find effective and sustainable solutions to these challenges, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund(CultiAF), a partnership between IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), is supporting the development of innovations to help smallholder farmers mitigate their vulnerability and adapt to extreme weather conditions, boost agricultural productivity and improve their livelihoods while engaging in sustainable farming practices.
For example, sustainable improved fishing practices are helping address nutritional deficiencies in vulnerable communities while the use of insects as animal feed is offering a suitable, nutritious, affordable substitute to commercial feed protein sources. Better water-management practices using simple and accessible technologies are reducing water use by 50% while increasing productivity; crop insurance is providing a hedge for smallholder farmers to access inputs and re-invest in their farms should their crops fail due to climate extremes; and integrated pest-management technologies are being employed in the fight against the devastating fruit fly in the mango value chain in Southern Africa.
Read on to find out how the use of these innovations developed with the support of CultiAF are helping to build the resilience of food producers for a more equitable and sustainable food system in the region.