Researchers helping African farmers diversify

Published Thursday, 31st May 2018 in Research news

Henry cressein inspects rice field in guinea bissau
Dr Henry Creissen inspects a rice field in Guinea-Bissau

Researchers from Scotland’s Rural College have recently returned from Guinea-Bissau in Western Africa to assist in building networking and knowledge transfer centres between international researchers.

Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Academy of Medical Science, the goal is to facilitate the development of a project proposal, which addresses the needs of developing countries with research centres, such as SRUC and University Jean-Piaget Bissau.

Being heavily reliant on cashew cultivation as its main source of exports, Guinea-Bissau is in need of a diversification strategy. By amending current practices, the agriculture sector could mitigate risk of the dependency on cashews, as well as accommodate sustainability for nutrition and long-term planning.

SRUC staff, Professor Andrew Barnes and Joana Ferreira, from the Land Economy and Environment Research Group, along with Dr Henry Creissen, from the Crop and Soil Systems Group, joined researchers from the University of Lisbon to form an integrated research team.

The team travelled around Guinea-Bissau to visit a number of managed and semi-wild cashew plantations, which allowed the team to speak with stakeholders along the cashew supply chain.

Prof Barnes said: “We are excited to be involved in this work, which will allow us, through our research and educational capacity, to support the development of the agricultural economy of Guinea-Bissau.”

At the end of their week-long visit, the research team organised a workshop to address the potential for diversification and options to increase resilience of the cashew system already in place.

Along the way, the team delivered a range of SRUC materials, including visual soil assessment guides and a demonstration of the potential to use digital microscopes in the field to identify pests and diseases in the cashew crop. The team will revisit Guinea-Bissau at the end of the rainy season in October to understand the seasonal effects on food security.

To find out more about the work of SRUC’s Land Economy and Environment Research Group, click here

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