Drought / East Africa / Ethiopia / Food Security / Kenya / Pastoralism / Somalia / Vulnerability

Research for resilience: Helping the Horn’s food producers better absorb climate shocks

Consortium media briefing at ILRI on drought in the Horn: Panelists

Lloyd Le Page (left), chief executive officer of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, and Namanga Ngongi, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, at a news briefing convened by the Consortium at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on ‘Research options for mitigating drought-induced food crises’ on 1 Sep 2011 (photo credit: ILRI/Samuel Mungai).

The following are highlights of an opinion piece Lloyd Le Page published in Alertnet on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Le Page is chief executive officer of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, whose 15 member institutions work in over 50 countries in extensive partnerships with national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector.

Le Page believes we can build agricultural systems resilient enough to absorb environmental shocks even as great as the current drought sweeping the Horn, the worst in more than half a century, and for that ‘we need research into more sustainable and optimal use of land, water and grazing systems.’

Focusing our efforts on long-term solutions via research and innovation would . . . provide vital knowledge and technologies that farmers, herders, aid workers and policymakers can use to inform decisions on how to cope with them.

‘We must give farmers and herders a fighting chance at being able to absorb shocks and recover. To do this, we must increase access to weather information; develop and deliver appropriate grazing and feeding strategies, as well as hardier animal breeds; improve soil management, water capture and storage technologies; and enhance agricultural extension and land use strategies. . . .

. . . [F]or every dollar invested in international agricultural research, $9 worth of additional food is being produced in developing countries, according to a recent study of CGIAR impact. . . . Research addressing dry land agriculture can pay off and has paid off.

‘Even the best agricultural research can only pay off if its findings are put into practice. This requires an encouraging policy environment, sufficient infrastructure, access to markets, and services to educate and share knowledge with herders and farmers and together with them develop local best practices. . . . Only by mobilizing our collective strength can we develop and deliver the effective solutions at a scale needed to avert future food crises. . . .

Read the whole opinion piece in Alertnet: Climate conversations–Putting food security on a path towards resilience, 23 Aug 2011.

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