Feed the Future Innovation Labs

Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling

Betty Bugusu, Director

The goal of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling is to increase access to safe and nutritious foods along the value chain by improving the drying and storage capacity of smallholder farmers and expanding market opportunities through diversified processed products that address quality in the market and nutritional needs. The project focuses on cereals and grain legume value chains in Kenya and Senegal. Locally available nutrient-dense value chains are also targeted for enhancing nutritional value of products. The project has two core research components: 1) Grain drying and storage involving development and dissemination of affordable and efficient drying and storage technologies for use by smallholder farmer, and 2) Food processing and nutrition involving development of high quality, market-competitive food products, including products with improved nutrition and dissemination through incubation training centers. Building of local capacities (human and institutional) and partnerships among public and private sector are other components of the project. Gender and environment are taken into account at all stages of the project cycle. Partners include: North Carolina A&T State University; University of Pretoria, South Africa; Institut de Technologie Alimentaire, Senegal; L'Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles, Senegal; The Cooperative College of Kenya; University of Eldoret, Kenya; CIMMYT-Kenya; and A to Z Textiles, Tanzania.

Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet

Genetic enhancement of sorghum to promote commercial seed supply and grain market development in Ethiopia – Gebisa Ejeta, PI

Ethiopian sorghum landraces exhibit native genetic variation for drought and Striga resistance, which this project aims to exploit in development of sorghum cultivars with resistance to these important stresses. The project employs biotechnology, breeding and agronomy to unleash the potential of the crop for Ethiopian farmers. The team is developing a core set of sorghum germplasm population to characterize the inherent variability through large-scale, high-throughput genotyping and coupling this practice with phenotyping of valuable traits under target environments.

Innovation Lab for Horticulture

Sustainable African Indigenous Vegetable Production and Market – Steve Weller, PI

This project has focused on the incorporation of African indigenous vegetables as additional crop enterprises to traditional agronomic crops to provide more resilient food production systems for smallholder farmers in sub-Sahara Africa. By strengthening the African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) using a market-first approach to overcome constraints along the value chain, the team expects to improve production practices, supply, postharvest handling, distribution and consumer acceptability of AIVs, and therefore provide opportunities for smallholder farmers to become more engaged in the supply chain. 

This program is designed to help improve AIV genetic materials and established systems for growers to access such materials, coupled with the development of sustainable production and postharvest systems that allow for year-round production as well as seed production/saving techniques.

Partnership with industry and the private sector is key to making greater gains toward improved market access while building capacity of stakeholders through outreach programs across the AIV value chain. The team intends to create new awareness of health and nutritional benefits of AIVs, key ingredients needed to develop a sustainable and resilient AIV system that contributes towards micronutrient needs of marginal populations. These activities will further serve to drive market demand.