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Maize-legume project launched in southern Africa

During 11-15 May 2010, CIMMYT scientists from the Conservation Agriculture, Socioeconomics, and Maize programs met with SIMLESA partners in Malawi and Mozambique, coinciding with each country’s official SIMLESA launch. SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa) is new four-year project to improve farm-level food security and productivity in eastern and southern Africa. The project is a collaboration of international and national agricultural research programs, led by CIMMYT, funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and implemented in collaboration with national partners.

On 12 May in Malawi, the Principal Secretary of Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Andrew Daudi, announced the beginning of SIMLESA-Malawi. Daudi expressed his gratitude to the Australian Government and ACIAR for their generous financial assistance to SIMLESA, and to CIMMYT and its partners for developing the program document and preparing for the start of field activities.

Two days later, the Governor of Mozambique’s Manica Province, Ana Comuane, officially launched SIMELESA-Mozambique on 14 May in Chimoio, the province’s capital city and where the national maize research program is based. The Governor congratulated all those who assisted with the project’s development and encouraged SIMLESA partners to maintain the partnerships and collaborations fostered by the project, which will help meet the goal of increased productivity. She also extended her gratitude to ACIAR and the Australian government for their financial assistance.

SIMLESA project leader Mulugetta Mekuria, along with CIMMYT and ICRISAT scientists Bekele Shiferaw, Patrick Wall, Mosses Siambi, and Emmanuel Monyo presented project specific objectives and facilitated the subsequent discussions. National agricultural research institutes and private sector partners also outlined the current status and challenges of research in their respective organizations. In both Malawi and Mozambique, partners indicated their commitment to the implementation of the planned project activities. TV and press media in Malawi and Mozambique extensively covered the launch and inception meetings, and related government officials, SIMLESA project leaders, and national coordinators gave interviews.