Canadian Foodgrains Bank Launches New Conservation Agriculture Program

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
CA launch, Niverville, MB

Public Policy Director Paul Hagerman speaks to those gathered for the Conservation Agriculture Program launch in Niverville, MB, with Executive Director Jim Cornelius looking on.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank will scale up its work in conservation agriculture in three east African countries through a new five-year $18.67 million program.

The program, called the Scaling-Up of Conservation Agriculture in East Africa Program, was launched August 5 at Artel Farms in Niverville, Man. It has been made possible by a $14 million grant from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

Through the new program, three of the Foodgrains Bank’s member agencies—Mennonite Central Committee Canada, World Renew and World Relief Canada—will be able to directly assist 50,000 farm families in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Farmers who want to increase the productivity of their farms through conservation agriculture will receive training, technical assistance and support through the program.

“Working together with the Foodgrains Bank members and partners on the ground, we will be able to help small-scale farmers address issues such as soil fertility and climate change and grow more food to feed their families,” says Foodgrains Bank International Programs Director Barbara Macdonald.

“This program will allow us to scale-up our work to enhance soil and water conservation through improved agricultural technologies in Ethiopia and Kenya, where we work with six local partners,” adds Don Peters, Executive Director of Mennonite Central Committee Canada.

“We’ve seen very positive results in our work to date, and are confident that through the funding of this program we will see these same positive results throughout a much larger area, impacting a larger number of small-scale producers and their families.”

Conservation agriculture is characterized by the three linked principles of minimizing soil disturbance, permanently covering the soil, and including crop rotations and associations. It has proven effective at restoring soil health and fertility, improving the capture and use of rainfall, and increasing crop yields and farm profitability.

In addition to directly assisting farmers through training, the program will also help farmer groups, non-governmental organizations, government and the private sector to promote conservation agriculture systems for smallholder farmers more broadly in East Africa, and work to improve the quality and implementation of national and regional agricultural policies and programs supporting conservation agriculture.

Funding from the Canadian Government is being made available on a 3:1 matching basis; people who would like to donate can do so by visiting our donation page and selecting the Conservation Agriculture in East Africa project.

Fast Facts

Name: Scaling-Up of Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program.

Budget: $18.67 million ($14 million from DFATD and $4.67 million from Canadian Foodgrains Bank).

Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania.

Number of projects supported by the program: 14.

Foodgrains Bank members involved: Mennonite Central Committee Canada, World Renew, World Relief Canada.

Canadian Partners: Mennonite Economic Development Associates, Farm Radio International, the University of Guelph, the University of Manitoba.

Number of local partners: 11. (Food for the Hungry Ethiopia; Migbare Senay Children and Family Support Organization; Meserete Kristos Church Relief and Development Organization; Wolaita Kale Heywot Church; Terpeza Development Association; Anglican Development Services; Utooni Development Corporation; SASOL Foundation; Africa Inland Church of Tanzania; Sengerema Informal Sector Association; Diocese of Central Tanganyika.)

Major areas of work: Productivity support (to increase yields), network building (to provide information and technical assistance); policy influence and outreach (to improve the quality and implementation of policies that support conservation agriculture in East Africa).

Number of participating farm families: 50,000

Goal: Provide training, technical assistance and support for poor, small-scale farmers who want to adopt conservation agriculture to increase the productivity and profitability of their farms.

Methodology: Working in focus areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania to promote conservation agriculture to small-scale farmers; creating the pre-conditions to broaden the scale up of conservation agriculture across East Africa; and influencing local governments and other organizations to increase support for conservation agriculture.

Expected results: 50,000 farmers, 50% of them women, adopting conservation agriculture; increased soil fertility; 50 local civil society organizations and private organizations investing resources in conservation agriculture; increased support for conservation agriculture by governments in East Africa.

Click here to learn more about conservation agriculture.