Research improves secure access to nutritious food
Since 2009, much of this research has been supported through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a joint initiative of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and IDRC. The CA$124 million program brings together Canadian and developing-country researchers, policymakers, and the private sector to improve agriculture and nutrition in developing countries, create new businesses and markets, and scale up innovations for maximum impact. Canadian producers and consumers also stand to benefit from the research.
Achieving results in Africa
Learn more: Better cassava boosts food security
Breeding a better banana: Research supported in part by IDRC has reversed the rapid decline in banana production in central Kenya over the past 15 years. By 2012, more than 300,000 farmers were benefiting from new disease-free seedlings and improved planting methods. Near Nairobi, yields increased by 150% and farmers’ incomes rose from $1 to $3 a day.
Learn more: Socio-Economic Impact of Tissue Culture Banana in Kenya (PDF, 392 KB)
Eradicating malnutrition: Child malnutrition has been significantly reduced in northern Malawi, following a decade of IDRC-supported research. Some 10,000 families now benefit from new planting methods (e.g., intercropping maize with nutrient-rich pulses and beans), nutritional education, and community involvement. The result: improved soils, larger harvests, and healthier children.
Learn more: Bringing research to farmers' fields in Malawi
Higher yields, more efficient water use: In Africa’s Sahel region, farmers working with researchers combined fertilizer “micro-dosing” with improved rainwater harvesting techniques to boost yields of cereal and legume crops. These innovations substantially increased productivity and incomes. In Burkina Faso, sorghum yields more than doubled to about 700 kg per hectare. Quick to adopt the technologies, women farmers reported profits of up to 300%.
Learn more: Fertilizer micro-dosing: a profitable innovation for Sahelian women
Achieving results in Asia
Learn more: Breakthrough supplies young fish to a hungry industry
Reducing millet losses: A portable grain mill developed in India is among the innovations funded through CIFSRF. Tested in four regions in India and set to expand to three more, the mill has already attracted private sector interest in South Asia, Africa, and the United States. The improved mill greatly reduces post-harvest losses and women’s work, and produces clean millet seed that sells for three to four times more — all while creating business opportunities for women to sell millet-based food products.
Learn more: Farmers find ways to reap the financial and nutritional benefits of millets
Protecting fruit, increasing income: Researchers in Canada, India, and Sri Lanka have developed a simple and eco-friendly technology to reduce post-harvest losses in perishable fruit. Spraying with a naturally occurring compound, hexanal, delays ripening and keeps mangoes on the tree for up to one month longer. Delaying the harvest helps farmers earn up to 15% more by selling fruit when most other producers’ supplies are exhausted. Using nanotechnology, researchers are introducing the compound to packaging to further prolong shelf life, an advance that could benefit soft-fruit farmers around the world.
Learn more: Reducing post-harvest losses in mango in South Asia
Tapping into sunshine: Solar-powered fruit and vegetable dryers are helping residents of southeastern Bhutan’s remote villages increase their food security and improve livelihoods. To date, 23 dryers have been built and installed in remote, non-electrified villages. The dryers were built by local engineers and carpenters, trained through an IDRC-funded project. Villagers report improved nutrition, taste, colour, and quality of the products compared to the previous open-air drying system. The National Post-Harvest Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture plans to bring the model to other parts of the country.
Learn more: Solar dryers are improving livelihoods in Bhutan
Achieving results in Latin America
Learn more: More food, higher incomes in the Andes
City gardens feed thousands: In Rosario — Argentina’s third-largest city — more than 800 urban gardens are feeding some 40,000 people, with produce left over to sell. It was not always so. The country’s 2002 financial crisis left thousands of people without basic necessities, including food. Drawing on IDRC-supported research, the city introduced an outdoor market program, horticultural parks, and a new approach for leasing unused land.
Learn more: Rosario, Argentina — A city hooked on urban farming
Hardier, more nutritious potatoes: In Colombia, researchers combined the best modern technologies and participatory methods to develop new potato cultivars that are highly resistant to late blight disease. The CIFSRF-funded research showed that some of these cultivars contain twice the amount of protein, are higher in iron and zinc than existing local potatoes, and yield up to 30% more. Farmers are now multiplying the cultivars to boost production.
Learn more: New varieties of potato can feed the poor
- Visit the CIFSRF website to learn more about IDRC’s support for research to boost food security.
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Photos: IDRC; Loredana Marchetti; Flickr / Templar1307