Skip to main content

Africa: Agriculture

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 30 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much assistance they have given to centres of research into improved dry land agriculture in Africa during the past two financial years; and with what measurable results in productivity and agricultural extension. [HL5052]

In the past two years the Department for International Development (DfID) has provided £5.8 million directly to international research centres working on dry land and semi-arid agriculture. In addition, over the same period, a proportion of DfID's overall contribution of £40 million to 15 international agriculture research centres has been spent on research into the development of new varieties of drought-tolerant crops and the development of improved farming practices to overcome the worst effects of drought.

New varieties of crops, more productive and better able to withstand drought, have increased the yields of staple crops grown in arid and semi-arid areas, For example, drought-tolerant varieties of maize, developed with DfID support, increase farmers’ yields by 25-30 per cent and are being grown on more than 1 million hectares in Africa. Sorghum varieties have been developed and released which increase farmers’ yields by over 50 per cent. In total over 400 new varieties of drought-tolerant and more productive crops have been developed and released in Africa by international agriculture research centres.