The main goal of this proposal is to provide the economic, scientific and technological means to expand income generating vegetable farming activities in Southern African countries. This will be carried out through interdisciplinary soil, microbiological, environmental and agronomical research required to create methodologies and establish design criteria allowing for improved resource management in peri-urban areas through the use of mixed intercropping systems. It is envisaged that the results obtained with accompanying socio-economic studies, should also yield guidance and proposals to permit policy formulation at the regulatory and institutional levels that will lead to increased market driven food security in cities surrounded by informal settlement communities in Southern Africa.
Other specific objectives include :
* developing mixed intercropping combinations, including the use of appropriate indigenous vegetable crops, to optimize small-scale crop production in the peri-urban areas;
* developing methodology for energy-balance relationships on small plots;
* establish minimum additions of nutrient-rich materials needed to produce household compost with high soil-conditioning and soil water-conserving ability;
* use neuronal networks to characterise microbial population dynamics so as to monitor and control nutrient availability in digesters and compost;
* create a network of institutions and competent researchers in critical areas of soil, irrigation and plant science, environmental and soil microbiology to improve their capacity to manage the available resources in the peri-urban areas to provide for income generating, sustainable agriculture.
The major benefits from the research hereby proposed is the development and expansion of income generating vegetable farming activities, carried out in the small plots of land available. This is a critical issue in the Southern African region and the conclusions and recommendations can probably be extended to other DC regions. Coupled with this major benefit, other social / developmental benefits will accrue, in particular the poverty alleviation and social uplifting of the residents, the improved diet intake with increased vitamin content and a clear amelioration of the environmental quality, health standards and greening of peri-urban settlement areas.
This project will focus the research efforts on four major work packages :
A. Household water and waste treatment processes using composting and waste water digestion to improve the recyclability of water, to recover nutrients and to provide soil conditioners;
B. Low cost, high efficiency irrigation technology - to minimize the use of water for each of the cropping systems tested;
C. Soil, water, plant interactions - to compare the agricultural productivity of the various crops under the different conditions existing in the participating Southern African countries, in order to establish viable and appropriate mixed intercropping farming systems;
D. Socio-cultural, economic and institutional issues - incorporating socio-cultural approaches to choose "best" solutions, to foster community residents' interest in the proposed solutions, to carry out economical evaluation of the systems' options and outputs, and identify the regulatory/institutional measures necessary to underscore the financing of infrastructure and the maintenance of communally managed systems.
The various aspects of the project will be integrated to enhance its complementary, interdisciplinary aspects, to reinforce their respective scientific competencies, and to create interrelated networking in order to improve the key areas of the farming system concept presented above.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
ME4 4TB Kent