AATF has championed the facilitation of access and delivery of quality and affordable agricultural technologies to African small holder farmers that significantly enhance productivity and improve their incomes, Dr Canisius Kanangire, AATF Executive Director has said.
Dr Kanangire made the observation in a presentation to the 2021 Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Policy Dialogue entitled: 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,” he said.
“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 and with the potential to increase maize yields by 40-60 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 pest called Maruca pod borer which has the potential to reduce production by up to 80 percent.
“Cowpea production is expected to increase through the control of 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 eight sprays to only two.
The Executive Director also said that AATF is in the vanguard of encouraging mechanization and Agroprocessing through its Cassava Mechanization and Agro-Processing Project (CAMAP) and AgriDrive.
“The CAMAP Project managed to bring over 65,300 hectares under mechanization within five years in Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia, benefitting over 850,000 smallholder farmers, majority of them women and youth who usually provide labor for cassava production,’ he said
Dr. Kanangire said that farmers who tried out mechanizing their farms under CAMAP had reported increased harvests from 7-9 MT/ha to over 25 MT/ha,an increase of over 200%. The farmers also increased their earnings five-fold from $350 per ha to over $1,800 per hectares due to better quality tubers, increased yields, and greater market linkages.
He 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.
FANRPAN Policy Dialogue is a annual event that brings Governments and other agricultural policy stakeholders on agricultural transformation in Africa.