The design of a strategic and long-term joint research partnership between Europe and Africa is the aim of the PROIntensAfrica project. 15 European and 8 African partners joined forces to achieve this aim of the project, which is coordinated by Wageningen UR, and will start 1 March 2015. Management of the project is with Wageningen International, FARA and CIRAD. The thematic focus of PROIntensAfrica is on “sustainable intensification of the agro-food system in Africa”. It will have, however, also implications for the required agricultural innovations in Europe.
PROIntensAfrica is not a research project but a Coordination and Support Action project, meant to explore the options for a large future partnership program between Africa and Europe. It addresses the development of the research agenda for such a partnership, the operational aspects, the financing and the rules and regulations for participation. The philosophy is that creating a critical mass of research supported by pooled resources of various funding organisations in Europe and Africa will increase the impact of the research efforts. Consequently, the support of policy makers and research councils is indispensable, and raising their commitment is an important element of the project.
Current agricultural production systems contributed to an enormous increase in food availability over the last decades. Yet more food is needed in the near future. It is projected that the expected growth in the world population from 7 to 9 billion in 2050 and the changing diets will necessitate 70% more available food by 2050. Although the current production systems enabled a substantial increase in production, the farming practices impacted the environment and the natural resource base (e.g. soil fertility degradation, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, water pollution and water shortage, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, etc.). In addition, many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty, as agriculture fails to attract young people to work in agriculture, especially in Africa. So the world faces the challenge to produce more food in a sustainable way.
The term ‘sustainable intensification’ is used to designate the production increase in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable way. Various pathways to reach this sustainable intensification have been developed. They differ in various aspects and concepts and the specific local contexts, social structures and potential markets. The pathways can be built on modern high-input principles, can be based on more agro-ecological production concepts and principles, or a combination of both. One of the aims of the PROIntensAfrica project is to take stock of current pathways, and use them to formulate the research agenda of the anticipated future partnership program.
The African partners are FARA (Ghana), CORAF/WECARD (Senegal), CCARDESA (Botswana), ASARECA (Uganda), AFAAS (Uganda), ARC (South Africa), CSRI-CRI (Ghana) and INERA (Burkina Faso).
The European partners besides Wageningen UR are CIRAD (France), UCL (Belgium), SLU (Sweden), IICT (Portugal), LUKE (Finland), Univ. of Copenhagen (Denmark), ZEF (Germany),INIA (Spain), NRI (England), TEAGASC (Ireland), BOKU (Austria), Univ. Life Sciences (Czech Republic), Univ. Szent Istvan (Hungary) and Bioforsk (Norway).