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MSU Receives $18.5M in USAID to ‘Feed’ Nigeria’s, Sengal’s Futures

Nigerian women and baby

Michigan State University will use two grants, awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and totaling more than $18 million, to support two African nations as they fight hunger and take charge of their own food security future.

These grants, part of the USAID-funded Feed The Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, a $70-million international project portfolio managed by MSU’s agricultural, food and resource economics department, underscore MSU’s long history in helping developing nations establish the policies and procedures necessary to drive their own food security efforts. The grants support USAID’s work under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“Food and nutrition security is essential for human and economic development as well as political stability. National and regional policies to achieve this goal must be informed by a sound understanding of the food system and broad consultation with citizens,” said Duncan Boughton, co-director of MSU’s Food Security Group.“MSU’s contribution is to partner with and equip analysts in universities, think tanks and governments with the tools to be successful.”

The first grant, $12.5 million, will assist Nigeria to strengthen its own food security policies and subsequently improve nutrition outcomes. To that end, MSU – partnering with the International Food Policy Research Institute – will help increase the nation’s capacity to generate and analyze information and to develop evidence-based policy options. The MSU/IFPRI team also will improve the policy process to ensure a strong empirical evidence base and active dialogue at all levels.

“Our goal is to foster credible, transparent and sustainable policy procedures at the country level,” said Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, assistant professor of agricultural, food and resource economics and project team leader.

“We want to work with Nigerian researchers and policy stakeholders to strengthen the building blocks for national policies as well as increase input among all stakeholders around critical policy issues.”

Seventy percent of Nigeria’s population of 170 million derive their livelihood from agriculture. An estimated one-third of Nigerians are impoverished, and improving agriculture is critical to reduce poverty levels. It is imperative, to promote inclusive agricultural productivity growth, improved nutritional outcomes and enhanced livelihoods of Nigerians through an improved policy enabling environment, which is a central goal for us, said George Mavrotas, IFPRI project leader in Nigeria.

The MSU team is hoping to clear some of the bureaucratic stumbling blocks to greater private-sector investment. The current business climate has been described as “confusing, conflicting and counterproductive.” By clarifying the process, the researchers hope to increase investment and spur domestic production.

To broaden the reach of the effort, the researchers also may seek participation of Nigerian universities, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector associations and journalists.

The MSU team working in Nigeria includes Liverpool-Tasie, Thomas Reardon, Laura Schmidt Olabisi and Steve Longabaugh.

Additional partners include the University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University.

A second, $6 million grant, will be used to help another West African nation, Senegal, to increase its agricultural capacity. The MSU/IFPRI team will work to increase public and private investments in agriculture by helping the government strengthen its policies and enhancing the country’s investment environment.

Senegal has a predominantly poor population with roughly 75 percent of the workforce producing subsistence crops.

“While a large informal domestic trade sector exists in Senegal, a strengthened, more-organized and efficient agribusiness sector can help improve agricultural production, increase domestic trade, increase incomes while reducing imports,” said Longabaugh, agricultural, food and resource economics specialist. “To enable this, the partnership between Senegal’s high-level policymakers and agriculture stakeholders, including the private sector, needs to be strengthened.”

The team will help create new capacity in three areas: first, a participatory, open policy process that includes all stakeholders; second, a network of local centers of expertise to identify problems and to collect and analyze data to help solve them; and third, infrastructure and tools to support decentralized policy planning, implementation and monitoring, and creation of high-quality policy and strategy documents.

The MSU team working in Senegal includes Boubacar Diallo, Reardon and Longabaugh.

An additional partner includes Africa Lead.

Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.

– Layne Cameron, Abby Rubley, Duncan Boughton via MSU Today

– Photo:  A woman attends a health education session in northern Nigeria; DFID – UK Department for International Development

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