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EU Project SustInAfrica started

SustInAfrica is a research project empowering West and North African smallholder farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate sustainable intensification of African farming systems. ATB participates as one of 16 partner organisations from 11 countries in the project funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

The project SustInAfrica aims to develop and deploy a reference framework on best agricultural practices and technologies, based on a systems approach, and successfully verified for their efficacy to intensify primary production in a self-sufficient, sustainable and resilient manner.

As global population grows, agri-food systems face numerous complex challenges. These challenges are further exacerbated as accelerating global warming, and other human activities, impact upon the adaption capacity of agricultural production and ecosystems. These factors are predicted to have the most serious impact on the African continent.
In North and West Africa current farming systems face multiple challenges affecting agricultural productivity. Agronomic systems and practices have caused the large-scale degradation of soils and agro-ecosystems, which has reduced their capacity to store water and nutrients, and therefore their ability to support farming and maintain plant health. 
To help address these challenges, The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is now coordinating an EU-funded project on Sustainable Intensification of food production in West & North Africa (SustInAfrica). By developing resilient and sustainable farming systems in West & North Africa SustInAfrica aims to empower smallholder farmers, small and medium-sized enterprises and various government and non-governmental organizations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Egypt and Tunisia, to intensify food production and deliver ecosystem services in a sustainable and resilient manner. 
“The project will strive to attain this by providing a comprehensive analysis of local ecosystems, in addition to offering soil, water and plant health management strategies. It will also provide business models and policies and help develop related technologies that support farmers in their decision making”, says project coordinator Nils Borchard from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE).

ATB contributes to the project with research on smart farming technologies for ecosystem and crop management (WP 2) . ATB will lead the workpackage and will be responsible for developing a smart farming technology strategy for African smallholder farmers as a systems approach. ATB will further lead the development of smart tools for insect pest monitoring based on its experience in data science as well as on its efficient infrastructure for building and optimising complex deep learning models for implementation in smart sensor technology. As a result, the tool InsectaMon will be developed, heavily relying on future-oriented ICT combining affordable sensor technology with a smart intelligent design based on machine learning. It will be calibrated and tested on different sustainable farming practices in Ghana with pineapple, in Burkina Faso with cotton, and in Tunisia with olive.

SustInAfrica consists of 16 partner organisations from 11 countries. The project started in 1.9.2020 and will continue for five years. Funding for the project comes from European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

Contact ATB: Dr. Michael Schirrmann

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