Science - May 15, 2019

Wageningen project in Ethiopia receives prize for agriculture and food

Text:
Albert Sikkema

The Wageningen project ‘Innovation Mapping for Food Security’ (IM4FS) has won the Olam Prize from the French Agropolis Fondation. The project introduces farmers in marginal areas of Ethiopia to best practices.

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The project does not only look at which crops can grow best in a given area, but also at the involved climate risks, markets and farmers’ loans. Using research data and IT, the project develops best-fit combinations of crops, soils and matching technology for farmers in marginal areas of Ethiopia. This project builds upon the Wageningen project Cascape, which developed best fits for farmers in the fertile Rift Valley in Ethiopia.

Simulation
IM4FS developed a simulation program which farmers, regional officials, food companies and banks can use to check which measures could increase production and incomes. The project also ensures that eighty best practice examples from Cascape’s are currently being used by regional information services in Ethiopia. The plan is to reach 750 thousand small‑scale farmers this year. The Wageningen researchers are developing this material together with Ethiopian researchers and agricultural extension officers.

The Wageningen researchers involved are Tomaso Ceccarelli, Remco Vonk, Herman Agricola and Eric Smaling from Wageningen Environmental Research and Herman Snel from the Wageningen Center for Development Innovation. The latter institute also carries out the Cascape project.

Spatial planning
‘This instrument is the start of spatial planning in Africa’, explains Eric Smaling, project leader of IM4FS. ‘Much of the planning in Africa is improvised or assumes that the farmers know. I am convinced that spatial planning combined with local wisdom will yield the best results.’

The Olam Prize honours innovative research that improves food security. The prize is awarded biennially in France. The researchers receive a check for 75,000 euros.

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