For Immediate Release
October 26, 2004
Media Contact: Natasha Klobas
(415) 777-1170

Rodale Institute® to Improve Food Security in Africa

Kutztown, Penn. — The Rodale Institute® will help enhance food security in Africa and other developing nations as part of a $34 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Institute will work with the leader of the project, Virginia Tech, and other universities on a five-year program to help developing countries manage agricultural production in sustainable ways. The program emphasizes ecological pest and land management in order to enhance farm productivity and food security, and to preserve natural resources.

“Our experience with organic soil management in Senegal makes us a natural partner for Virginia Tech and USAID,” said David Ward, vice president for business and program development at The Institute. “Farmers will learn how to feed their people and provide crops for export, using methods that improve their soil and leave their land richer than before.”

USAID awarded two $17 million grants to Virginia Tech, one for integrated pest management and the other for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, in which The Institute is a partner.

The Institute has been working in Africa since the 1980s and maintains research and training facilities in Senegal. Much of the work there is an outgrowth of research into organic agriculture done on its experimental farm near Kutztown for the past 22 years.

The Institute will initially investigate past and present soil protection and improvement projects in developing nations, particularly in Africa, and see how these efforts have succeeded and/or failed. The work is part of an overall effort to integrate the work of agricultural, ecological and socioeconomic scientists and increase the productivity of the land, improve food security, increase farm incomes, empower the poor, strengthen civil society, and build the capacity of community and government institutions in developing countries.

Agricultural expansion often kills off the diversity of the plants and animals in developing countries. That is why this project makes strong links between increasing agriculture while maintaining biodiversity.

“Rather than reduce biodiversity, organic practices that have been studied and improved at The Rodale Institute here and in Senegal actually increase the biodiversity of farmland,” said Ward.