A number of East African institutes are researching new seed varieties better suited for dry areas to combat the effects of climate change in the region. The partnership, comprising seven universities and institutes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, will also disseminate technical knowledge to agricultural extension services and farmers, and promote new insurance and financing schemes for building resilience to climate change.
Heather Grady, vice-president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said it is part of a US$150 million package for climate change and food security initiatives across Africa in the next four years.
Speaking at a meeting with researchers at Makerere University in Uganda last month (4 July), Grady reported: "In May, through our grantees, more than a dozen varieties of four crop species – cassava, peanut, cowpea and sorghum – were released, most of them coming from Uganda, and the result of original breeding that made use of local germplasm plus specific traits contributed by material from the group institutions".
The partners will also offer technical training in germplasm, seed selection and climatology, and will disseminate knowledge on climate change. Researchers will work with farmers from mid-2012, engaging them in research developments and the creation and expansion of insurance schemes.
Members of the partnership are Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organisation in Uganda; the University of Dar es Salaam and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania; and the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development and the Kenya
Agricultural Research Institute in Kenya.