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IDRC and ACIAR partnership focused on improving food security, resilience and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa.
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The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) was a ten-year (2013-23), CAD35-million partnership (AUD37 million) between IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). 

The partnership leveraged the strengths and resources of each organization to improve food and nutrition security, resilience and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa. 

CultiAF funded applied research to develop and scale up sustainable, climate-resilient and gender-responsive innovations for smallholder agricultural producers.  

The first phase of CultiAF (2013-2017) supported eight projects in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. CultiAF’s second phase (2017-2023) supported nine projects (five new projects and four carried over from phase 1) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which focused on four key priorities: 

  • increasing productivity and reducing post-harvest losses; 
  • linking agriculture, nutrition and human health; 
  • gender equality; and 
  • climate change and agricultural water management. 

Achievements of the program include the development of 53 new innovations, establishment of policies that enabled scaling of innovations, improved livelihoods and enhanced resilience for smallholder farmers, and the empowerment of women and youth through training and mentoring. The research also contributed to reduced post-harvest losses, improved nutritional outcomes, and public and private sector investments in agribusinesses. 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams had to adapt to enable their research work to continue. The program supported the teams in identifying new ways of working as well as integrating responses to COVID-19 in research work. This included use of digital platforms, product diversification, facilitating access to inputs and improved financial management to address food supply chain disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 measures.  

Overall, the CultiAF partnership emphasized the commitment of ACIAR and IDRC to fund research that aims to improve gender equality and social inclusion, particularly in the areas of technology and value chain development, entrepreneurship and building capacity within the agricultural and food system sectors. 

The findings that emerged from CultiAF-funded work are being disseminated for greater impact and to inform innovative business models that boost the strategic leadership, influence and involvement of women and youth throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. 

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Synthesis of the CultiAF partnership, 2013-2023

This synthesis presents the results of the 10-year journey that IDRC and ACIAR took together in funding agricultural research to inform policy and help improve food and nutrition security in East and Southern Africa.  

Explore research projects that we support.