Minister of State for Overseas Development launches ‘Khulungira: Harvesting Hope in an African village’
An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha Preas Ráiteas
Department of Foreign Affairs Press Release
Preas Oifig, Teach Uibh Eachach, Faiche Stiabhna, Baile Átha Cliath 2
Press Office, Iveagh House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
Tel: 353 -1- 478 0822 Fax: 353 -1- 478 5942 / 475 7476
Minister of State for Overseas Development launches
‘Khulungira: Harvesting Hope in an African village’
Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power, T.D., today launched an exhibition highlighting the potential of science for Africa’s smallholder farmers at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Dublin.
The multi-media exhibition, which is timed to coincide with World Food Day on 16 October, features video, slideshows, photographs and soundscapes to introduce the people of Khulungira, a village in Malawi which has benefited from advances in agricultural research.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Minister Power said:
“At present, one in six people worldwide go to bed hungry each night and many more cannot afford a healthy diet. If we do not do all in our power to reverse the rise in food insecurity and hunger, we will be failing in our basic human obligations, and accepting a scandalous situation which we have the capacity to change.
This powerful exhibition presents the people behind the grim statistics. The villagers of Khulungira are typical of millions of people who are dependent on smallholder farming for food and income. The challenges they face are daunting: If the rains are late, or crops are infested with a pest or disease, people can starve. If conditions are good, they may have a little extra to sell for income and be able to send their children to school. In this sort of scenario, even the smallest improvement in productivity can make a huge difference.
Thanks to research undertaken by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and funded by Irish Aid, many Khulungira villagers have begun to plant new varieties of potatoes, sweet potatoes, groundnuts and trees. Others are improving the composition of soil and expanding their livestock holdings.
In each case, the change has increased production, improved diets and reduced vulnerability to catastrophic loses. We know that without this kind of agricultural research, some 13 to 15 million more children would have suffered from hunger and malnourishment across Africa. Research has shown that for $1 invested in CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food has been produced in the developing world.
Ireland, because of our history and commitment to development, has played a pivotal role in the global fight against hunger. The eradication of hunger is a cornerstone of Irish Aid’s overseas development programme. We are committed to spending 20% of the total aid budget on hunger reduction.
In 2009, Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development, has provided funding of almost €7 million to CGIAR. Continued investment in agricultural research is essential to success in transforming African agriculture into a highly-productive, sustainable system that can assure food security, keep children in school and lift millions out of poverty,” Minister Power said.
Irish Aid is hosting a seminar on 'Delivering for the Poor and Hungry - the role of Agricultural Research' to mark World Food Day (2.30pm, Friday 16 October, 2009 at the Irish Aid Information and Volunteering Centre). Leading international agricultural researchers, such as Dr Carlos Seré, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Dr Richard Jones, Assistant Director for Eastern and Southern Africa at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will attend.
Notes for Editor
- The exhibition is produced by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and part-funded by Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development. CGIAR is an international alliance of agricultural research centres which deploy top quality science for the benefit of the poor.
- Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is an integral part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Venue: The exhibition is free and open to the public at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell St, Dublin 1 (corner of Cathal Brugha Street). For further information, visit www.irishaid.gov.ie
For further information or to arrange an interview with Minister of State Power, please contact Fionnuala Quinlan, press officer, Irish Aid, the Department of Foreign Affairs on 087-9099975.
15 October 2009