International Research Collaboration Aims to Boost Food Security for Africa Through Crop Improvement

ST. LOUIS, MO., January 5, 2024 — A group of scientists and agricultural leaders across three continents have joined together to develop improved crop varieties that meet the specific needs and circumstances of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The alliance brings together African research organizations including Ghana’s Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), Nigeria’s Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). Additional partners include Australia’s national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations (Gates Ag One).

By 2050, nearly one in four of the world’s population will be sub-Saharan African. Modelling indicates that African countries could meet this increased demand for food with full access to the latest agricultural innovations that would improve productivity between two and three-fold. The alliance aims to address threats to crop yields, for instance, from pest and disease outbreaks.

There is a strong correlation between agricultural growth and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Economic growth through agriculture is an estimated 11 times more effective at reducing poverty than other sectors.

Africa’s 33 million smallholder farms produce 70% of its food supply, yet they often lack access to the productive resources they need to thrive. In some countries, only 10% of smallholder farmers have access to the latest generation seeds or planting material.

The alliance is committed to working together to accelerate crop research and development that serve the unmet needs of smallholder farmers in the region.

About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education, and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and through the generosity of individual, corporate, and foundation donors. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.

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