COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has announced a new project funded by the agency and awarded to the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
The five-year, $12.5 million award creates the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small-scale Irrigation, which will focus on methods and practices to enhance the use of small-scale irrigation in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana to the benefit of the regions’ farmers, coordinators said. The objective is to contribute to sustainable improvements to utilize scarce water supplies, thereby enhancing food production by smallholder farmers. Specifically, the project will work to identify interventions that positively affect small-scale irrigation, as well as develop management protocols and practices to reduce poverty and improve nutrition.
The project is a major effort of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, which last year alone reached nearly 7.5 million farmers with improved technologies and management practices in more than 19 countries around the world.
Dr. Craig Nessler, director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, says the award “shows a vote of confidence in our ability to benefit the world through extensive resources born of our own challenges in Texas with climate and drought.”
Dr. Neville Clarke, Senior Fellow of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, Texas A&M University, and project co-director with Dr. Allan Jones, will lead the team of scientists at multiple locations of AgriLife Research. They will tackle development of new tools and knowledge for more effective and efficient use of water to meet increasing demands for food.
The research will begin with identifying constraints and opportunities to improving farmers’ access to small-scale irrigation technologies and will include introduction of new systems that will be used in practical demonstrations and adopted by African farmers where appropriate, according to Clarke. The project will also provide training in the use of the new technologies for in-country users — from government administrators to individual farmers — in implementing new capabilities.
The new modeling systems introduced and applied in this project will ensure new practices are gender neutral, environmentally sustainable and economically viable. They will provide enhanced nutrition to smallholder farm families.
Borlaug Institute director, Dr. Elsa Murano, called the award “a clear reflection of the Institute’s capacity for harnessing the expertise of Texas A&M to carry on Dr. Borlaug’s legacy of fighting world poverty and hunger.”
The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University is named for Nobel laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, who led the Green Revolution and is credited with saving the lives of more than a billion people. For more information on the institute, visit http://borlaug.tamu.edu.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small-scale Irrigation will be implemented jointly by the Borlaug Institute team and its partners. Those include three centers of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, the International Water Management Institute, the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Food Policy Research Institute. These centers, along with North Carolina A&T State University, will cooperate with in-country universities, government research organizations and other international partners in the project countries.
Project administrators noted that technologies produced under this program can also be applied in the U.S., where models being used in the project are already employed.