The four successful projects in the first round of the 'Best Bets' programme represent a total investment of £1.5 million.
Over 100 project proposals were submitted in the response to the call for projects in East, Central and Southern Africa. From these, 8 were short-listed and the final 4 were selected at an event in Nairobi, Kenya, on 26-27 November 2009, when candidates pitched their proposals to a panel of high-powered business leaders and research experts. The winning projects are:
Safe and affordable armyworm control tools in East Africa (led by CABI Africa) - for establishing a system for the production, supply, distribution and marketing of safe and affordable armyworm control tools in Tanzania and Kenya over the next 18 months. This pest attacks pasture and key crops such as maize, sorghum, millet and rice. The total area of crops prone to attack in Tanzania and Kenya is estimated at 2.1 million hectares. Part of the project involves armyworm forecasting which aims to help villagers predict armyworm outbreaks and tackle the problem before it gets out of control.
Improving access to NERICA rice seed (New Rice for Africa) in Uganda (led by NACCRI, The National Crop Resources Research Institute, Uganda) - to support the scaling up, production and delivery of high quality NERICA rice seed by local seed companies working with smallholder farmers and to implement a marketing strategy to stabilise demand. Rice is becoming increasingly important as a food and cash crop in Uganda. NERICA rice varieties are high yielding and have relatively low water requirements. Their use will support government initiatives for improved food security and income generation.
Farmer-applied biocontrols and seed treatments in Kenya (led by the Real IPM Company Ltd) - for promoting yield improvement through farmer-applied biocontrol seed treatments in maize, sorghum and millet. This project aims to increase productivity for small-scale farmers who save their own seeds by using a mycoherbicide to control the parasitic weed Striga and encouraging seed priming.
Resources and information for smallholder farmers and young people in East Africa (led by Farm Input Promotions Africa; FIPS-Africa) - for a private sector-led extension service to address climatic threats to food security, empowering smallholder farmers throughout East Africa to put research into use. Working with input-supply companies and research centres, demand will be created for new varieties of crops and improved fertilizer blends, and outputs from a selection of successful RNRRS projects will be used to improve soil, crop, and livestock management. In addition, various youth-focused media (comic books, radio programmes and interactive SMS) will provide young people with ideas for generating income through agricultural activities.