An innovative project involving researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) that is helping farming communities in Africa thrive has been recognised for its success.

The “Transforming Irrigation in Southern Africa” project, established in 2013, has won a European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Excellence in Practice Gold Award.

The project is a collaboration between ANU, The University of South Australia and a number of international partners.

The team is now working with 15,000 farm businesses and 42 irrigation farming communities across three countries.

Their work includes introducing rice mills, storage facilities and equipment.

Professor Jamie Pittock from ANU said it’s “an honour to collaborate with so many wonderful people and organisations to empower farmers to improve their livelihood and food security.”

“We believe this project has significant impact for a more equitable and sustainable world,” Professor Pittock said.

The project promoted learning and development in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 80 per cent of food is produced by small farm businesses.

Researchers provided farmers with simple to use tools to reduce water use and a social process to build the capacity of farming communities to solve problems and seize opportunities.

Improving the farmers’ livelihoods and food security has resulted in households spending more money on food, education and health. The increased farm income has also resulted in hiring more non-family labour, creating jobs for other community members.

The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research who said the research has in turn delivered “better livelihoods for women, for the poor and for youth”.

EFMD is an international non-profit, membership-driven organisation, which is recognised globally as an accreditation body for business schools, business school programmes, and corporate universities.

Top image: Irrigation farmers at Tshongokwe irrigation scheme, Zimbabwe. Photo: Professor Jamie Pittock

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Jess Fagan

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