Current Projects

Promoting production and utilization of grain amaranth for improved nutrition and health in Uganda

Dorothy Masinde Co-PI
McNight Foundation.  January 2010 - December 2014

This project seeks to promote production and utilization of grain amaranth in Uganda, to contribute to alleviation of malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty of resource poor farmers.  Following a baseline survey to determine current knowledge, attitudes and practices, on-farm experimentation will be undertaken in seven agro-ecological zones of Uganda to determine the best areas and conditions for grain amaranth production.  Participatory experimentation will be undertaken to develop acceptable recipes and suitability for incorporation into baked products, flours and other commercial foods.  The results will be used to design crop production and use recommendations to be disseminated using farmer-to-farmer approaches and other extension mechanisms.  Commercial utilization of amaranth will be promoted through training and support of entrepreneurs.  Participating organizations include Makerere University and Volunteer Efforts Development Concerns (VEDCO), an Uganda NGO.

Strengthening Value Chains for Maize and Soybeans for Ugandan Women Farmers

Mark Westgate Co-PI
USAID - Farmer to Farmer Niche Project.  January 2012 - December 2012

This project promotes sustainable livelihoods of small landholder women farmers in the Kamuli district of Uganda.  Project activities to increase production and post-harvest quality for maize and soybeans, access labor saving equipment, and improve marketing of these crops grow for commercial sales will increase profits and benefit these women and their entire families.  Project volunteers will be Iowa women farm owners and operators who will mentor and train Ugandan women farmers and farmer association members. We will focus on maize and soybean production and marketing.  The focus with maize is on post-harvest handling, grain quality, labor savings, and group marketing. We will teach marketing groups/associations and grain buyers to understand and adopt current maize grain grading standards.  The focus with soybeans is to improve farmers' production, harvest, drying and threshing techniques.  Some techniques introduced will also have application for dry beans, already grown on many Kamuli district farms.  Women farmers' marketing associations will also jointly market soybeans not kept for family consumption or seed.  The project accesses expertise of eight Iowa women farmers, two Iowa State University faculty and three staff members, and will impact 100 Ugandan farmers and their families. Five marketing groups/associations will be established or expanded to accommodate additional farmers and sales of maize and soybeans.  Association members will establish market relationships with local and regional buyers that will provide opportunities for future marketing of additional crops and livestock.

Enhancing biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) of leguminous crops grown on degraded soils in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania

Mark Westgate PI
USAID - Dry Grain Pulses CRSP.  October 2010 - September 2012

Low soil fertility of degraded soils and lack of access to inorganic fertilizer and major constraints for overcoming poverty and mal-nutrition of small landholder farm families in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The first strategic aim is to improve biological nitrogen fixation and grain yields of common beans significantly using novel biological inoculants through farmer-based experimentation and adoption of innovative production techniques.  The second strategic aim is to examine the inheritance of genetic and environmental variation in BNF in the common bean, and to identify molecular markers associated with QTL conditioning for enhanced BNF.  The third strategic aim is to improve the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of agricultural systems on degraded soils through effective dissemination of new information and technologies to small-landholder farmers through on-farm demonstrations, mass media, field schools, and local forums.

Ongoing collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods at Iowa State University, Makerere University, Volunteer Efforts for Developmental Concerns, and the National Crop Resources Research Institute have increased food security and market readiness from 9% to over 70% among 800+ farm households. The proposed project builds on this success by collaborating with legume geneticists/physiologists in the USDA-Agricultural Research Service at Michigan State University and Washington State University, and their research/development partners at the Institit des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda in Rwanda and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania.  Training of numerous host-country graduate students and undergraduate interns along with enhanced farmer group training and dissemination ensures significant long-term impacts from this project.

Enhancing Nutritional Value and Marketability of Beans through Research and Strengthening Key Value Chain Stakeholders in Uganda and Rwanda

Robert Mazur Pl
USAID - Dry Grain Pulses CRSP.  October 2009 - September 2012

This project produces integrated information on agronomic, post-harvest, nutritional and market factors regarding bean production and consumption, and builds a strong program of academic training and engagement in application of research findings.  Continuing and new applications build on successful research outcomes and outreach activities.  The team will take advantage of emerging opportunities to expand the range and depth of development impacts through improved harvested bean quality and yields, enhanced nutritional value and uses of beans, development of new markets and marketing channels, evaluating use of bean-based products for nutritional rehabilitation, and continued support and development of the capacity of agriculture research institutions.

Bridging the Gap:  Increasing the Competitiveness of Ugandan Women Farmers in the Marketplace

Mark Westgate and Max Rothschild Co-PIs
USAID - Farmer to Farmer Niche Project.  January 2010 - December 2010

The goal of this project is to promote sustainable livelihoods of small landholder women farmers by strengthening their capacity for market-oriented farming and establishing farmer associations to share knowledge, experience, and market bases.  The project uses volunteer women farm owners and operates from Iowa to mentor Ugandan farm/producer women and farmer association members.  It focuses on locally produced vegetables and chickens, which present unique production and marketing opportunities for women farmers.  The primary objectives are to integrate market chain analysis between farmers and farmer associations that will improve decision-making by producers, make use of a community of practice approach for training, information sharing and knowledge dissemination, and conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation to support ongoing sharing between countries, volunteers, and women farmers.  Ugandan farmers will learn from market-building successes of the volunteers and earn income from current or additional farm goods they produce.  Two marketing cooperatives will be established and operational relationships established with wholesalers/retailers who will continue to provide incomes for these farmers.

 

 

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