A unique mapping approach that will give smallholder farmers a 'best fit' for what to grow, where and how, has been awarded the 2019 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security thanks to its potential to improve productivity in food-insecure areas and countries.
The approach, called Innovation Mapping for Food Security (IM4FS), is being developed by a team coordinated by Dr Tomaso Ceccarelli of Wageningen Environmental Research, the Netherlands, and Dr Eyasu Elias Fantahun of Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security was launched in 2014 in partnership with Agropolis Fondation. The winner receives an unrestricted $75,000 grant for the scaling up of proven research.
Since the inaugural prize was awarded in 2015, farmers across the world have benefited from the winning innovations, recognised for their potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food.
Crucially, IM4FS is building on the strength of the CASCAPE project, which has been carried out in close cooperation with the Agricultural Growth Programme (AGP) of the Ethiopian government.
CASCAPE designed and implemented site-specific combinations of crops, soils and farming practices, enabling around 200,000 farmers to boost their harvests above the Ethiopian average (yields increasing threefold for wheat and doubling for Tef and Faba bean), and start becoming self-sufficient by applying these best-practice interventions.
Whilst existing land evaluation approaches are focused on improving agricultural productivity, CASCAPE combines data with stakeholder engagement to ensure proposals will work in practice. To ensure this, farmers, extension workers, local experts and planners are engaged from the start, bringing an understanding of the realities on the ground to any approaches.
This data and information is then fed into the Geographic Information System (GIS)based tool, which then matches the best farming practices with bio-physical and socio-economic conditions in a given area. The tool creates 'recommendation maps' that highlight areas most suitable for specific innovations. Local stakeholders will verify the recommendations against their expertise and expectations.
IM4FS takes these learnings one step further through its unique ability to offer a scenario planning function that informs decisions in agri-landscapes and food-insecure areas. This ultimately creates a more dynamic and interactive tool to provide...