Representatives from the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation (QAAFI), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the national agricultural research systems (NARS) of Kenya and Tanzania, and CIMMYT scientists from Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe met between 14-17 October in Arusha, Tanzania, to finalize activities to meet the objectives of the second phase of CIMMYT’s Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) project.
The joint meeting for the Kenya and Tanzania country teams was the third and last launch and planning meeting. It was also a follow-up of two previous operational meetings held in Lilongwe, Malawi, and Hawassa, Ethiopia.
SIMLESA was established in 2010 to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farming communities in Africa through productive and sustainable maize-legume systems and risk management strategies that conserve natural resources. It is managed by the CIMMYT and implemented by NARS partners in five target countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. With lessons from these core countries, the program is also implemented in the “spill-over” countries of Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda.
Dr. Fidelis Myaka, director of research and development with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives and guest of honor at the meeting, said SIMLESA was one of the pathways for Tanzania to meet its nutritional requirements and achieve food security for its population by 2050. Myaka, who is also a SIMLESA Project Steering Committee member, added that the project’s first phase focused on various technologies and improved the yield and productivity of smallholder farmers through sustainable maize-legume systems in the five core countries.
“Now, we need to upscale all these good experiences and the second phase is not an opportunity to be missed. The implementation of SIMLESA II will give all of us an opportunity to work with farmers to increase their production for sustainable food security and income,” Myaka told the 42 meeting participants.
George Mburathi, ACIAR consultant, said SIMLESA had a role to play in telling its own story to the outside world.
“SIMLESA should proactively develop content for its publications to give smallholder farmers a voice. This way, you will help to involve various stakeholders by communicating for impact and influence.”