Food security in Africa

Media release

30 November 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced a $15 million partnership with Canada for agricultural research into improving food security for expectant mothers and children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers would examine ways to address water use in drought conditions and address post-harvest crop failures. Senator Carr said an emphasis on food security for expectant mothers and infants would also help address Africa's high rates of stunted growth in children under five.

"More than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africans – around 234 million people – will suffer from a lack of nutrition this year," Senator Carr said.

"Under-nourishment is particularly acute among expectant mothers and young children in east and southern Africa.

"This research will focus on the needs of these women and children by examining ways to improve water use and reduce the post-harvest loss of crops from drought.

"Crop failures in sub-Saharan Africa cost around $4 billion a year in grains alone.

"Research will examine how small-scale irrigation projects can lift crop yield. It will build on existing work that is helping women farmers in Kenya to triple the yields of their maize crops and poultry farmers in Tanzania to better utilise water supplies."

The Australian International Food Security Centre and Canada's International Development Research Centre will contribute $7.5 million each to the partnership to fund research grants.

The new partnership with Canada, and the AIFSC, is part of more than $500 million in long-term Australian commitments to African development. Recent outcomes include new livestock vaccines for East Africa; tools, fertiliser and seeds to support 376 000 Zimbabwe farmers and improved harvest conditions for 500,000 African maize farmers.

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