University of British Columbia and developing-country scientists awarded CA$2.9M to improve nutrition of rural Cambodian women and children

VANCOUVER, BC, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Scientists from the University of British Columbia, led by Tim Green and Judy McLean, and researchers from Helen Keller International of Cambodia have teamed up to increase and diversify food production and nutrition for small, rural households. By combining aquaculture and home gardens, farmers will be able to produce more affordable and nutritious food and gain the tools they need to improve agricultural practices and nutrition.

This CA$2.9M project, announced today by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in cooperation with the University of British Columbia, is one of six new projects funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF). CIFSRF, a 5-year, CA$62 million initiative, brings Canadian and developing-country researchers together to produce lasting solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the developing world.

"Homestead food production has long been promoted as a means to improve nutrition, food security, and livelihoods of poor rural farmers, although a better evidence base is needed," says UBC researcher, Green, who leads the Cambodian study with co-investigator McLean in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. "Our project in rural Cambodia will be the first to rigorously evaluate the actual impact of women-centered homestead food production models, which will include fish ponds."

Cambodia produces enough rice to feed its population but maternal and child under-nutrition remains high due to a lack of crop diversity and shortage of nutrient-rich food. In this project, 600 households, largely headed by women farmers, will raise small nutritious fish for their families in the same ponds as large fish, which will be sold for income. Combined with vegetable and fruit production, the project is expected to help reduce anemia and under-nutrition in a country where one-third of childhood deaths are directly related to under-nutrition and poor feeding practices. It should also increase household food security and incomes.

"We expect that the results of this project can be effectively scaled up and adopted for broader use throughout Asia," says IDRC President David Malone. "This is very much in keeping with IDRC's commitment to research that supports development through the practical application of science."

"Canada is a world leader in the fight against hunger, and our partnership with IDRC plays a strong part in our efforts. Food and nutrition security remains a key priority of our government's development assistance," says Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. "Our contribution to CIFSRF demonstrates Canadian leadership in assisting developing countries fight hunger through innovative practices and supports private sector growth in agriculture."

Today's funding announcement brings to 19 the number of projects supported under CIFSRF, which includes researchers from 11 Canadian universities and 26 developing-country organizations. It also represents the third and final round of funding announcements in the first phase of CIFSRF, a key component of the Government of Canada's Food Security Strategy, announced by the Prime Minister at the 2009 G-8 Meeting in L'Aquila, Italy.

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For more information about CIFSRF, visit: www.idrc.ca/cifsrf

About University of British Columbia:
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America's largest public research and teaching institutions, and one of only two Canadian institutions consistently ranked among the world's 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization.  UBC offers more than 50,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $550 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through 7,000 grants.

About IDRC:
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 choice and change to those who need it most.

About CIDA
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada's lead agency for development assistance. CIDA's aim is to manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results. It also engages in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada's effort to realize its development objectives.


SOURCE International Development Research Centre

For further information:

University of British Columbia: Heather Amos / 1.604.822.3213 / 604.828.3867 / heather.amos@ubc.ca

For CIFSRF information: Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé / 1. 613.696.2343 / ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca

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