USAID announced a five-year extension for two research partnerships under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. These critical investments will increase productivity and raise incomes of small-scale farmers and fishers so they can produce more affordable, nutritious foods and help improve diets in their own communities and beyond.
This includes an up to $15 million extension for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, led by Mississippi State University, and an up to $14 million extension for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research, led by Michigan State University, subject to the availability of funds.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish works to strengthen the climate resilience of fisheries and other aquatic food systems – such as the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed – in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia. Aquatic foods are nutritious sources of animal protein and, as one of the world’s most traded agricultural products, are also important sources of income for aquatic farmers and fishers. Rises in oceanic temperature and increasing acidification can cause the decline, and in some cases collapse, of fisheries. It is estimated that fisheries in tropical regions could lose up to half of their current catch levels by the end of this century. With about 2.6 billion people in developing countries depending on fish for protein and income, these additional shifts could have dire consequences for their food security and resilience.
Building on years of research, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish develops and scales innovations that sustainably increase fish production while also prioritizing natural resource conservation and the needs of producers and fishers. This new phase of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish will prioritize increasing sustainable and climate-smart practices, such as enhancing the ability of coastal wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The extension will also focus on increasing food safety and inclusivity along aquatic food value chains, so more people can benefit from nutritious diets and decent livelihoods.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research focuses on innovative ways to sustainably scale the production and retail of grain legumes in West and Southern Africa. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, provide an important source of affordable protein and improve climate-resilience by returning nitrogen to the soil, improving soil health. The Feed the Future Legume Systems Innovation Lab has successfully produced improved varieties of pest resistant cowpea and “common bean.” Pests are a major source of food loss and waste in legume production, with some capable of destroying 80 percent of farmers’ yields and responsible for over 48 percent of post-harvest loss.
Through this innovative research, production of these new legume varieties will be scaled up and brought to market, increasing both the resilience of legume farmers’ livelihoods and the availability of nutritious food. The program will also expand to reach more communities in new regions of Africa and, for the first time, into Latin America and the Caribbean. The extension will also enable the lab to continue their important research on empowering women and young people within the legume production systems, which has already shown strong results in providing economic opportunities to rural women’s groups and has supported more than 60 students to achieve higher education degrees.