NMBU project to fight food insecurity in Niger

NMBU’s Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) has entered a new phase of the project Research Development for Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation[1]. The project will improve the food security of 40 000 households in the West African country of Niger.

Niger, a vast land at the heart of the Sahel region, is one of the poorest countries in the world. With 10% of its children severely undernourished, it consistently ranks near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.

“This agreement will strengthen food security in one of Africa’s most vulnerable countries” said Norway’s Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein in a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Niger is one of our partner countries in the Sahel region, and is facing significant challenges relating to conflict, poverty, exponential population growth and climate change. It is especially important to help steer farming activities in a more climate-resilient direction. I am pleased that we can support the continuation of Care Norway’s constructive project in Niger, and make such good use of the widespread expertise of researchers at NMBU.”

Developing Niger’s own capacity to fight food insecurity

To support Niger in developing its own capacity to deal with its food insecurity and poverty, 10 PhD students will be trained at national universities in the country. This is where NMBU’s role lies.  Noragric’s Jens B. Aune and Gry Synnevåg will contribute to the training of the PhD students, and facilitate the link between research and development. 

“We are pleased to be able to continue the efforts to strengthen the research capacity in Niger and to develop new approaches for climate-smart-agriculture”, says Jens B. Aune, Professor at Noragric and NMBU’s main partner in the project.

Climate-adapted food production

The project aims to make agriculture in the country less vulnerable to climate change, and fight food insecurity and malnutrition with the following actions:

  • Introducing drought-resistant crop varieties
  • Improving methods for crop establishment
  • Improving cereal and livestock production
  • Improving nutrition through cultivation of nutritious crops
  • Training households on improved nutrition

The researchers hope to maximise crop yields by ensuring the timeliness of farm operations with the use of simple, low-cost mechanization.

Livelihood improvement measures

For more long-term gains, the project will promote the establishment of local development committees to improve market access, facilitate access to credit and strengthen local participation.

The project will make active use of social media, national TV and radio to reach out beyond those who are directly involved in the project.

Noragric’s role in Norway’s new Sahel strategy

Funding for the project was announced in connection with the launch of Norway’s new strategy for the Sahel region. An objective of this strategy is to promote more sustainable, climate-adapted and productive food production in the region through, amongst other measures, applied research such as this project.

The connection between climate and security, a research focus at Noragric, is a priority topic for Norway's work in the Security Council. Norway will emphasize climate and security in dialogue with development partners in the Sahel region.

This is the second Sahel strategy presented by the Government. The first was launched in 2018. Noragric professor, Tor Arve Benjaminsen is amongst the experts asked to review the former strategy along with colleagues at PRIO. An aim of the review is to inform and potentially adjust the newly launched Strategy.

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The project is led by Care Norway in collaboration with Niger’s Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Research Institute in Niger (INRAN), along with NMBU. The overall budget for the five-year project is NOK 100 million.

 [1] Recherche-Développment pour la Sécurité Alimentaire et l’ Adaptation au Changement Climatique (REDSAACC)

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Published 2. July 2021 - 12:27 - Updated 28. July 2021 - 11:41