We’ve made lots of progress over the last couple of decades, but food shortages continue to be a problem in West Africa. With 25 per cent of the population suffering from malnutrition, West Africa remains one of the regions hardest hit by food insecurity. Factors like unpredictable climate and high food prices, declining soil fertility and limited access to markets, among others, have all contributed to the ongoing challenges.
About 75 per cent of the poor people in West Africa live in rural areas and depend mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, agricultural productivity and production remains very low due to reliance on mainly traditional, rain-fed agriculture using inefficient practices that prevent farmers from producing enough food and raising adequate income to meet their requirements. As a result, three out of four people live on less than $2 per day.
To address this challenge, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone, the countries targeted by this project, have prioritized agriculture as a key factor for tackling food insecurity as well as for economic growth and transformation of their economies. They’ve recognized the long-term importance of improving children’s nutrition and are taking steps to change things. Working with each nation’s government, we are contributing to improved food security of farmers by responding to the challenges of food production, consumption and marketing in the target areas.
Supported by a generous contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and working with our partners at home, AGRITEAM Canada and the University of Guelph’s Faculty of Food Agriculture and Resource Economics, we are providing technical and research support to improve systems and business models to:
1. Promote better practices to enhance agricultural productivity, improve natural resource management and promote sustainable livelihoods among households
2. Promote growing and eating more nutritious food – especially among children under five
3. Improve agricultural services by building institutional capacity of government departments to provide these services
Together we are working with West African farmers to improve their access to food, increase the health of their children and grow better, together.