Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced the Australian International Food Security Centre has established its first office in Africa – in Nairobi, Kenya.
Senator Carr said under-investment in agricultural research and innovation is a key factor affecting Africa's ability to bring about food security.
"The new Centre will help Africa in its transition from a reliance on emergency food aid, to building a viable smallholder farming sector," Senator Carr said.
"Since 2010 Australia has provided more than half a billion dollars to further food security in Africa.
"The Centre will ensure we are also sharing our valuable agricultural expertise.
"The work of the Centre will build on Australia's contribution to food security in Africa by ensuring technology and know-how are put into the hands of smallholder farmers across Africa."
The Centre is delivering research projects across eight countries in the south-eastern Africa region – Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The projects focus on giving farmers access to the latest research innovations.
This includes the use of trees in crop–livestock systems and the use of small tractors in different farming environments.
Research will also look into what and how farming system improvements can be delivered.
Initially this will focus on understanding the decisions of farmers to plant particular crops, when or how to harvest, what technologies to use and the risks they consider.
This information will help to target assistance most effectively.
Scoping studies are also investigating better ways to farm local poultry, to grow and sell vegetables and to use water for farming.
The Centre was announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October 2011, to lead Australian engagement in the area of food security, focusing initially on Africa.
It operates as part of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
Australia is hosting an international food security forum, Food Security across Africa – Bridging Research and Practice in Sydney in November.
The forum will bring together key African, Australian and international representatives to engage on the Centre's strategy to improve food security across Africa.
Senator Carr made the announcement in Canberra today at the Crawford Fund's Annual Parliamentary Conference.
The Crawford Fund is a non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to international agricultural research.
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