Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda Use Science and Technology to Boost Agricultural Productivity

July 10, 2014

  • Across Sub-Saharan Africa, the agriculture sector is under-performing
  • Four east African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – are collaborating to marshal the power of science and tackle common problems facing farmers
  • A new video documents the East Africa Agricultural Productivity Program and its sub-regional approach to boosting the quantity and quality of food produced by farmers

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014–Most experts agree that priming Sub-Saharan Africa’s farm economy – which typically accounts for between 30 to 40% of gross domestic product and 65 to 70% of the labor force – is vital for ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity on the continent.

Now, in a new and concerted push, four countries in eastern Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – are together taking steps to marshal the power of science, boost food and dairy production, put more money into farmers’ pockets, help send and keep children in school, allow them to eat more nutritious meals, and reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint.

The following success stories are drawn from work done under the aegis of the East African Agricultural Productivity Program (EAAPP) financed by the World Bank and partners. The overarching goal of the EAAPP is to increase agricultural productivity and growth in eastern Africa, focusing on priority commodities such as cassava, rice, wheat and smallholder dairy production. The project is implemented by ASARECA, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa and supports the objectives set by African countries through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

“I am pleased that this program is well-aligned with the objectives of CAADP to increase agricultural productivity and improve nutrition, both of which are key to building Africa’s human capital,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “These success stories show how science and technology is enabling African farmers to grow more nutritious food and boost inclusive growth.”

" Agriculture is a proven driver of transformational change. "

Juergen Voegele

Senior Director of the World Bank’s new Agriculture Global Practice

Success Stories

  • Tanzania, Nyatwali Irrigation Scheme: Thanks to the refurbishment and revival of a 520-acre irrigation scheme, year-round cultivation of rice is now possible in Nyatwali village. Maria Nengwe, a rice farmer provides proof that thanks to support from the Government of Tanzania in the form of extension advice, new seeds and improved planting techniques, she and fellow farmers have been able to double, and in some cases, triple rice yields. Recognizing the power of collective action, farmers have formed cooperatives and many fishing families have become rice farmers.
  • Uganda, Winning the Battle against Brown Streak Disease: Cassava is a mainstay of diets in eastern Africa for rich and poor, young and old alike. When this essential tuber crop was being struck by brown streak disease, advanced detection techniques developed at the National Crops Resources Research Institute ensured bountiful harvests that helped to stave off disaster and prevented farmers from being pushed deeper into poverty. Testimony from Charles Kirya, a cassava grower in Uganda vividly describes the importance and impact of this work.
  • Ethiopia, Tackling the Scourge of Yellow Rust: In 2010, wheat farmers faced a crisis because of widespread incidence of yellow rust disease. Today, Amarech Abera, a wheat farmer in Ethiopia says thanks to problem-centered research and a drive to develop solutions, scientists and wheat breeders at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research developed new wheat varieties that are resistant to the disease. Yields have increased, farmers are able to sell surplus wheat, and a mill has opened to meet the growing demand for high-quality flour.
  • Kenya, Meeting Surging Demand for Milk: Low milk production, disease and poor quality fodder are holding back thousands of dairy farmers from lucrative market opportunities, including Nicholas Mbijiwe, a dairy farmer in Kenya. New, healthy breeds, advanced insemination techniques and improved fodder quality that combines protein-rich crop residues are all helping to raise the quality and productivity of livestock, thanks to targeted support provided by Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

“Agriculture is a proven driver of transformational change,” said Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the World Bank’s new Agriculture Global Practice. “These success stories show the power and benefits of scientific collaboration among neighboring countries and demonstrate that east Africa is ready for next steps to ensure food security for people in the sub-region.”

Signaling the importance of agriculture, the African Union Commission has designated 2014 as the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security.”  This was the theme of the recent AUC Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.