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SAFGRAD Phase 3 (1994-2003)


SAFGRAD needed to redefine its mandate to cover more countries and commodities, tree crops, livestock etc., with an emphasis on processing of agricultural products and commercialization of technologies.

This adjustment was deemed necessary to address changes and evolutions in the research environment in the global and continental levels.

SAFGRAD activities and main contributions in the period can be summarized as follows:

(a) Strengthening Agricultural Productivity: The Production Support and Financial Services Program, PSAFS.

To respond to concerns for a sustainable and efficient delivery of production support and financial services, SAFGRAD and USAID embarked on a pilot initiative for strengthening the delivery of these services in a PSAFS program. The goal of this program was to enhance the capacity of rural farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs to efficiently engage in economic enterprises through improved access and use of PSAFS to increase agricultural production and productivity, generate incomes and employment for rural populations. The general objectives of the program were,

•  To develop a framework, including principles for guiding efforts to strengthen PSAFS.,

•  To develop, test, and promote innovative options through strengthened partnerships and networks of stakeholders; and

•  To identify and share best practices and provide program and strategy development options for supporting PSAFS.

(b) Improving the nutritional quality of basic diets: The Micronutrient Enhancement in Staple Food Crops and their Products in West Africa Program

One important dimension of food security in semi-arid regions of Africa is that of adequate quantities of healthy, nutritionally balanced food specially for the underprivileged and most vulnerable groups. Micro-nutrient malnutrition, often called hidden hunger, diminishes the health, productivity and well being of large number of people, with impact particularly on women, infants and children from rural areas of semi-arid Africa . With assistance of partners (IDRC / The Micronutrient initiative), and taking into account its experience in food processing at community level, SAFGRAD has been engaged in a program for Micronutrient Enhancement in Staple Food Crops and their Products in West Africa .

1 In collaboration with National Food Science and Technology Units of participating countries and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, SAFGRAD has promoted dietary improvement and fortification for the improvement of the micronutrient content of basic diets based on food products of commonly consumed cereals. The Dietary Improvement projects include "Promotion of appropriate household and small scale soybean utilization technologies in two rural communities of Ghana . Introduction of soybean production into two villages in Ghana was particularly successful. The activity included soybean production demonstration and incorporation of soybean into basic diets for farmers. A total of 17 recipes with desirable nutritional qualities (energy, protein, vitamin B and B2, calcium, and iron) were developed. A variety of soybean products in the form of pastes, flour and drinks soybean wheat stews and soups were developed. The technologies are also being adopted by small scale enterprises for the production of high-protein weaning foods.

(c) Transforming agricultural commodities into value added products: The Transfer and Commercialization Program

One major factor that holds back effective movement of agricultural development forward is the lack of incentives to enable farmers to increase production beyond their family needs. Weak linkages and orientation of research to the needs of its clients, such as responding to the needs of agro-industries, have contributed to inefficient transformation of agricultural produce into value-added products, a process that is needed to broaden market opportunities for agricultural products.

SAFGRAD's strategy to minimize this problem was to support activities in Transfer and Commercialization Program. This program involves the regional exchange of information and experience, to enable farmers, small-scale processors, national research and extension systems and other partners to improve the efficiency of technology transfer in the area of food and other agriculture produce processing, for food security, income and employment generation.

Because gender is central to the organization of households in Africa , and because women possess extensive traditional knowledge and skills in the transformation of agricultural products, it was vital to invest in women because improving their well being also benefits family health, children nutrition, clothes and schooling, and the vitality of villages. The Transfer and Commercialization program therefore particularly targets women.

Salient achievement of this program includes:

•  In Burkina Faso , Ghana and Senegal , the technology transfer and commercialization program mobilized NARS, extension and NGOs to provide training to specific organized women's groups in post harvest and food processing technology of on-farm produce.

•  In Burkina Faso , the Ouahigouya Women's Association was assisted to build capacities in the technology for drying mango, potato, banana, papaya, tomato, and onions for the local market and for export. This activity generated permanent employment for women and raised the income of the association. Other beneficiaries of the activity included mango farmers and transporters - who benefited from export of processed dried mango to European countries such as Germany , England , Belgium , France Italy and Switzerland .

•  In Ghana , village level techniques in the utilization of soybean were introduced. A total of 17 diets with desirable nutritional quality (energy, protein, vitamin B and vitamin 12, calcium and iron) were developed. Practical training was provided to several women and men in food science and technology (development and processing skills). Technologies introduced were being used by small-scale enterprises for the production of high protein weaning foods. These products were on sale in the supermarkets and health shops in the urban areas of Ghana .

•  In Senegal , the Ndame Lo Women's Association was supported in post harvest processing of mango, other fruits, and spices. Women trainers were trained by the "Institute de Technology Alimentary" in post-harvest processing of mango and other fruits, and in harvesting spices and condiments. Acquisition of two well adapted drying units resulted in more than doubling of the fresh fruits processing capacity from 150 to 375 kg per day. The dryers also enabled the group to diversify production and increase income.

(d) Research and Control of Parasitic Weeds in West and Central Africa

SAFGRAD with financial support from the government of the Republic of Korea took up an initiative to deliver striga control technologies and enhance partnerships, complementarity and synergy among stakeholders and to enhance the exchange of technological information among African countries.

The project started in 1999 and major activities included verification and demonstration of on-farm striga control technologies, dissemination of proven striga control technologies, community seed production and diffusion, and an increase in activities such as training aimed at raising awareness of the problem and solutions.

Over the past few years, more than 5000 farmers have been directly involved in a total of about 1000 on-farm trials involving 23 striga tolerant and resistant (STR) maize, 3 cowpea varieties and one variety each of soybean and groundnut. The various control options increased yield and reduced number of emerged striga plants on cereal and leguminous crops.



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