By Abdallah el-Kurebe/Iowa, USA
Smallholder farmers in Africa will soon enjoy the benefit of developed agricultural products to support a conservation-based system of agriculture designed and targeted to sustainably improve productivity courtesy of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, John Deere and DuPont Pioneer.
The effort will be piloted in Ghana and will include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The partnership, inspired by Buffett Foundation’s research in conservation agriculture, hopes to develop a vibrant market for small-scale, conservation-based cropping systems and affordable equipment for smallholder farmers, first in Ghana and then across the continent of Africa.
“The long-term food security of Africa depends upon rebuilding its degraded soils, which can best be achieved through the widespread adoption of conservation agriculture practices,” Howard G. Buffett, Chairman/CEO of the the Foundation, said. “This requires a focus on smallholder farmers and a system of training, equipment and inputs to improve the land they farm even as they improve their production. We are proud to be working in partnership with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to make that system a reality.”
In the partnership, Dupont Pioneer is identifying locally-adapted and tested maize seed to increase productivity and cover crops such as cowpeas to prevent soil erosion and to improve soil fertility while John Deere is developing no-till equipment to test and modify for smallholder farmers in Africa.
On the other hand, Buffett Foundation in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is securing test plots for demonstrating the conservation-based cropping systems and equipment and hass funded a new academic center near Kumasi that will serve as the focal point of the collaboration.
“Collaborating with global partners to develop local products and production methods is important to increase food production sustainably and effectively,” Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer said. “Seed is only one part of the equation and that is why we are working with organizations like the Buffett Foundation and John Deere to bring holistic solutions to the table for Africa’s smallholder farmers.”
“This initiative provides an opportunity to help farmers move to early stages of mechanisation with the goal of improving productivity, which could help Africa feed its own population and provide food for other markets,” says Ganesh Jayaram, Joh Deere’s Vice President of agriculture and turf equipment sales.
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