The Rockefeller foundation, a US think tank that fosters innovative solutions to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, has set aside $70m to boost food production in Africa.
Heather Grady, the vice president of the foundation, said the grants will sustainably increase agricultural productivity, enhance national and global food security and reduce greenhouse gases.
“In Africa today, the Rockefeller Foundation believes that a priority must be to support farmers, because the majority of Africans are employed in agriculture and most are small holder farmers in rain-fed agriculture,” she told academics at Makerere University recently.
In the first phase of building climate change resilience initiative, dubbed ‘climate rural development’, the focus will be on research and training at African universities and through organizations on specific crop varieties. Already, according to Grady, more than a dozen crop varieties including cassava, peanut, cowpeas and sorghum have been developed at different centres in East Africa.
In Africa, the majority of households depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Makerere University’s agricultural research departments and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) are some of the East African beneficiaries to receive grants in the first phase of the initiative.
Grady pointed to other grants such as Index Based Weather Insurance (IBWI), a project designed to reduce the impact of weather related risks on smallholder farmers during a time of climate change. The IBWI also seeks to introduce an agricultural insurance with the aim of reducing on the severe agricultural funding risks.
Grady said the need to combat climate change should be taken seriously.
“Climate change today is the single biggest threat to finding a solution to food security in Africa. It will only be through an integrated approach, harnessing local innovations and technology to build resilience to the impact of climate change, that we will be able to develop a sustainable green revolution in Africa,” she said.
Rockefeller foundation has also supported the World Food Programme with a $3 million grant to develop an Africa Risk View, a software platform that aims to quantify and monitor weather related food security risk in Africa such as drought.