Noragric in new Horizon 2020 Project: InnovAfrica

  • Planting.
    Lillian Andersen/NMBU

The project aims to improve food security in Africa by integrating ways of increasing productivity for smallholder farms with innovative institutional approaches, including the use of smart phone apps and social media to communicate techniques and information.

Noragric in new Horizon 2020 Project: InnovAfrica

InnovAfrica: Innovations in Technology, Extension and Institutional Approaches towards Sustainable Agri-Food Systems to Promote Food and Nutrition Security in Africa

Around 80% of the food produced in Africa is currently grown by smallholder farms. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the production of these farms will probably have to increase by 70% to feed the growing population. Yields of African smallholder farms are amongst the lowest in the world due to factors including climate change, extreme weather, land degradation and limited access to water, mechanisation, improved seeds, fertilizers and information, as well as different socio-economic and political factors (source: project application text). This project will test ways of intensifying agricultural food production in a sustainable way; selected agricultural systems will be communicated to smallholder farmers in several African countries via smart phone apps, social media and village-based ‘Knowledge Centres’. In addition the project will publish papers and policy briefs to be used in policy dialogue forums, and to contribute towards knowledge based policy formulation.

“Great to see that the evaluators phrased the project for including an analysis of the conduciveness of policy frame conditions for smallholder agriculture” – Ruth Haug, Noragric.

With a multi-disciplinary team composed of 16 partners from Europe and Africa, the project will identify the needs and opportunities of existing agricultural intensification systems, and improve selected product value chains using these new approaches, including novel extension and advisory services.

The project leader is Udaya Sekhar Nagothu, Senior Researcher and Director of International Projects (South and SE Asia and Africa) at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). Sekhar completed his Masters in Natural Resources Management at Noragric in 1995. He went on to be Noragric’s first PhD Fellow, gaining his doctorate in Development Studies in 1999 when Noragric was still the Centre for International Environment and Development Studies. 

NMBU will be responsible for a work package on Policies and Institutions, led by Noragric Professor Ruth Haug, and will also be involved in some of the other work packages; Noragric Associate Professor Ola Westengen will have a cross-cutting role that will include looking into seed systems and the testing techniques used. NMBU’s long-term partner Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania will head a work package on innovative multi-actor platforms.

“The project is original in its inclusion of institutional and policy innovations, not just technological innovations” – Ola Westengen, Noragric

The four-year project has a total budget of 4.8 million Euros and will officially kick off with a workshop in Nairobi this April.

Project Keywords: Food and Nutrition Security, Technological Innovation, Institutional Innovation, Sustainable Agriculture, Extension and Rural Advisory Services

Case countries

Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa

Project partners

  • Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) – Coordinator
  • Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute Hub, Kenya – Coordinator
  • Haramaya University, Ethiopia
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
  • University of Malawi
  • Soils Food and Healthy Communities Organization, Malawi
  • Rwanda Agricultural Board
  • Modern Dairy Farmers Cooperative, Rwanda
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania
  • Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy
  • Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO Foundation), Netherlands
  • Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
  • Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) South Africa Regional Office
  • KIAG Grundbesitz GmbH, Germany

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme to date, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. [Source: European Commission]

NMBU information on applying for and administrating projects under Horizon 2020 and other European programmes (in Norwegian)

Published 26. January 2017 - 9:49 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:10