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June 11th, 2018 / ACIAR

Climate variability significantly affects cropping productivity around the world, but perhaps nowhere more so than in eastern and southern African countries. Compounding this, low agricultural productivity and research capacity have historically led to chronic food insecurity.

Responding to this critical situation, ACIAR’s work over the past eight years in the region has made impressive progress on food availability and nutrition.

ACIAR supports the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program that is turning around the livelihoods of farmers faced with the stress of poor seasons. Originally launched in 2010 and now in its second phase, the $18.6 million (AUD) ACIAR funded program aims to sustainably increase productivity of selected maize-based smallholder farming systems in each target country by 30% by 2023, reaching at least 650,000 farming households.

he intensification and stabilisation of rainfed maize-legume cropping systems offer considerable promise for boosting productivity, improving food and nutrition security and helping reverse the decline in soil fertility. The SIMLESA program is supported by ACIAR and managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in collaboration with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the national agricultural research systems of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Additional partners include the International Center for Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa (ARC RSA), the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland, and Murdoch University in Western Australia.

‘The focus on maize and legumes is because maize is a staple crop while legumes help improve soil fertility and are a source of protein and cash for the majority of the rural people,’ says Dr Mulugetta Mekuria, the SIMLESA project leader. Read more