Canada and Australia join forces to improve food security in Africa - $15 million project call launched

ACCRA, GHANA, July 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) today are launching a call for concept notes for the Cultivate Africa's Future (CultiAF) initiative, a 4-year, CA$15 million research partnership designed to combat hunger in sub-Saharan Africa by harnessing the potential for innovation among the region's smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women.

The announcement, made at the 2013 Africa Agricultural Science Week conference, represents a significant investment in research that will help promote food security in Eastern and Southern Africa by tackling persistent problems such as post-harvest losses, malnutrition, poor product quality, and inefficient water use. Managed by IDRC, and funded equally by IDRC and AIFSC, CultiAF contributes to Canada's and Australia's commitment to combat hunger, food and insecurity throughout the developing world.

"Sub-Saharan African agricultural productivity is the lowest in the world. This program will support research to find more effective ways to increase productivity and food security," says IDRC President Jean Lebel. This strategic partnership between IDRC and ACIAR will promote the use of existing science and technology expertise. "Canada's IDRC is pleased to partner with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to advance ideas and innovative breakthroughs that increase food security through practical science for development." added Mr. Lebel.

"Australia and Canada prioritize food security as a key element in our aid agendas, and recognize the untapped potential of innovation for smallholder farmers in helping food reach those who need it", says Mellissa Wood, Director of the Australian International Food Security Centre, which leads and funds ACIAR's involvement in the CultiAF partnership.

Under the Call, research organizations from 10 countries - Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe - are eligible to compete for grants of up to CA$3 million dollars each.

Winning collaborative research projects should help smallholder farmers reduce post-harvest loss of crops; improve yields and livestock productivity through better water use; and improve nutrition.  Resulting innovations are expected to be of use to other parts of Africa and will support national and regional food security efforts on the continent.

CultiAF builds on Canadian and Australian leadership in research innovation and food security throughout the world.

More information is available at www.idrc.ca/CultiAF.

About Canada's International Development Research Centre
A key part of Canada's aid program, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring change to those who need it most.

About the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
The ACIAR is part of the Australian Government's Official Development Assistance Program. Research funded by ACIAR aims to help developing countries to help themselves, by contributing to solving agricultural problems and building their research capacity.  ACIAR's involvement in CultiAF is delivered through the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC).

SOURCE: International Development Research Centre

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Media should contact:

IDRC (@IDRC_CRDI)
Gloria Lihemo, Nairobi
+254 2713160/1| Mobile: +254 727 903 983
or
Russell Milon/ 1. 613.696.2157 / rmilon@idrc.ca / @IDRC_CRDI

ACIAR (@ACIARAustralia)
Warren Page T: +61 6217 0577 / warren.page@aciar.gov.au
or
AIFSC Nairobi (@AIFSCAustralia)
Elizabeth Ogutu
Phone +254 20 4277 124

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