In the last decade, the climate of Africa has been changing in dramatic ways. Many regions face unpredictable levels of rainfall, which can lead both droughts and severe flooding. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world with over 30 percent of children under five facing stunting – severe malnutrition, and is the only region where the rate of undernourished people has consistently increased.
The Sustainable Intensiﬁcation of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program, launched in 2010, works to improve maize and legume productivity and reduce yield risk for over 650,000 farm households in sub-Saharan Africa.
Maize is a vital staple cash and sustenance crop in most of Africa, and legumes provide nutrition, income and improve soil fertility. However, farmers’ yields are suffering due to declining soil fertility, drought and poor access to improved technologies.
Over the last eight years, SIMLESA has developed productive, resilient and sustainable smallholder maize-legume cropping systems. SIMLESA focuses on improving maize-legume cropping systems by encouraging the adoption of sustainable agriculture systems through conservation agriculture practices such as crop residue retention, crop rotation and intercropping practices to simultaneously maintain and boost yields, increase proﬁts and protect the environment.
Recently, Elliud Kireger, director general of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Mulugetta Mekuria Asfaw, SIMLESA project leader and Daniel Rodriguez, associate professor, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) The University of Queensland, wrote a joint opinion piece “Africa: Science Can Reverse ‘New Normal’ of Hunger and Climate Disaster” in All Africa on the impacts of SIMLESA, read it here.
The Sustainable Intensiﬁcation of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).