This program is part of the Australia Food Security Initiative for Africa. It builds substantially on completed ACIAR projects in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It focuses on maize as the main staple and legumes as an important dietary protein source for the rural poor. Combined rainfed maize-legume cropping systems show considerable promise in boosting productivity and helping reverse the decline in soil fertility that is a fundamental cause of low smallholder productivity in the region.
To intensify maize-legume cropping systems in a sustainable way while reducing yield variability requires an integrated approach to the complex production and marketing system for these crops. Through participatory research and development with farmers, extension agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and agribusiness along the value chains, the program aims to improve maize and legume productivity by 30% and to reduce the expected downside yield risk by 30% on approximately 500,000 farms within 10 years.
Partner countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Australia, with input from South Africa. CIMMYT, as commissioned organisation, will manage the project in collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), partner country research entities, other CGIAR centres and Australian partners.