The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) said it has championed the facilitation of access and delivery of quality and affordable agricultural technologies to African small-holder farmers to significantly enhance productivity and improve their incomes.
This observation was made by the foundation’s executive director, Dr. Canisius Kanangire.
He made the observation during a presentation to the 2021 Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) policy dialogue themed – ‘Technologies to improve supply of diverse, safe and nutritious food across the value chains.’
“At AATF, we continue to witness the transformative power of technologies when placed in the hands of small-holder farmers.
“Through the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Initiative driven by AATF, over 120 climate-smart, drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize varieties have been released. These varieties are suited to different agro-ecological zones, with the potential to increase maize yields by 40 to 60 percent,” he said.
AATF and partners in Nigeria, released the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea variety, the first GM food crop to be released for cultivation outside South Africa.
The product is resistant to the Maruca Pod-borer which has the potential to reduce production by up to 80 per cent.
“Cowpea production is expected to increase through the control of the Maruca Pod-borer. The benefits derived from the product include bumper harvests, higher incomes and improved nutrition and health through reduced use of harmful insecticides. Farmers will now be assured of better health – especially regarding lower use of chemicals from 8 sprays to only 2,” he said.
Also, Kanangire disclosed that the AATF is in the vanguard of encouraging mechanisation and Agro-processing through its Cassava Mechanization and Agro-Processing Project (CAMAP) and AgriDrive.
“The CAMAP Project managed to ensure the mechanization of over 65,300 hectares in Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia within five years, benefitting over 850,000 small-holder farmers, majority of them women and youth who usually provide labor for cassava production,” he added.
The AATF boss said farmers who tried out mechanizing their farms under CAMAP reported increased harvests from 7-9 MT/ha to over 25 MT/ha, an increase of over 200 per cent. The farmers also increased their earnings five-fold from $350 per ha to over $1,800 per hectare, due to better quality tubers, increased yields and greater market linkages.
Kanangire pledged that the AATF will continue to engage in the annual FANRPAN Policy Dialogue, as a space to share the lessons on the role of agricultural technology and also engage with the policy and decision makers on the modalities for implementation.
A statement by the AATF communications officer, West and Central Africa Alex Abutu, said the FANRPAN Policy Dialogue remained an annual event that brings governments and other agricultural policy stakeholders on agricultural transformation in Africa.