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Fund to provide US$63 million for strategic crop research

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have signed a grant agreement for US$63 million to fund a multinational project that will support strategic crop research

The five-year project will aim to address the current shortfall in food supply across the continent and will specifically target four of the six strategic crops — cassava, maize, rice and wheat.

The project, named Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC), will be implemented by three Africa-based centres of the Multinational Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), including the Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

An AfDB statement said, “This project comes at a time when food security and nutrition are high on the international and national agenda of African countries, as rising food prices push millions of people into extreme poverty.

“It allows, for the first time, in a single project, Africa-wide coverage of efforts to tackle food security challenges.”

Made up of four components — agricultural technologies and innovations generation; agricultural technologies and innovations dissemination; capacity building; and project management — the project will target an increase to crop yields of 20 per cent and look to increase food security by 20 per cent to 84 per cent by the end of its five-year cycle.