The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Global Affairs Canada have announced six new projects to be supported under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF). The projects will develop, test and apply ways to scale up innovations in food security and nutrition. These projects will scale up effective, pilot-tested innovations so that they reach poor rural populations, particularly women and small-holder farmers. Two projects have been awarded to Macdonald professors.
Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez (Director, McGill Institute for Global Food Security) and Teresa Mosquera Vasquez (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) and their respective research teams have been awarded $1.5 million from the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund. The aim of the project — Expanding adoption of nutritious, disease-resistant potatoes in Colombia — is to scale-up the production and increase the consumption of three new improved cultivars of yellow potatoes in Columbia. Food insecurity among smallholder farmers can reach up to 90%. Researchers will work with farmers, field farmer schools and other members of the community to alleviate food insecurity, provide families with new means to generate income and improve human health.
The project builds on the work carried out by Canadian (PI Professor Ajjamada Kushalappa) and Colombian researchers which resulted in the development of these cultivars—with higher nutritional content, increased resistance to late blight disease, and greater yields. Project research has shown that the improved cultivars have increased incomes for farmers in the Nariño region, have high commercial potential, and are popular with consumers. (see project results)
Bioresource Engineering professor Vijaya Raghavan is the PI on the second project entitled Reducing barriers to millet production and consumption in India in collaboration with Muniappan Karthikeyan, DHAN Foundation, India.
India is the world’s largest producer of millet, a traditional staple that is rapidly becoming a “health food” of choice for the urban middle class. The government is also promoting millets under its National Food Security Act as key to combatting undernutrition, particularly in rural areas.
Two CIFSRF-supported solutions are putting into practice practical innovations to increase millet consumption and farmer incomes by making it easier to process, sell, and consume millets. One is new post-harvest processing equipment that reduces the dehulling time by 70-90%, freeing up women for other agricultural and entrepreneurial activities. The machines have other advantages: higher quality grain with less bran loss, ease in separating grains, and ability to dehull multiple types of small millets. Nine units are currently operating in multiple sites.
Experts also worked with local communities, especially women self-help groups, to develop 40 new ready-to-eat, millet-based snack foods, baked goods, and other products.