New Scientist reports: [edited]
"IT'S like having a new life," says Lucy Banda, a farmer in Mwambaso village in western Malawi. Over the past three years she has trebled her farm's output and increased her income 15-fold.
Banda is one of 1.75 million African smallholder farmers, 40 per cent of them women, enrolled in a $180-million five-year programme run by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. AGRA was set up in 2006 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Now, its latest report says the scheme is achieving its aims. Flagship projects in Tanzania and Malawi have each recruited 18,000 farmers, while in Ghana 117,000 have signed up. On average their farms' yields have doubled. From these initial three countries, the programme has expanded to 18.
"We hope by 2015 to have reached 20 million smallholders," says Bashir Jama of AGRA, who runs the organisation's soil health programme.