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Local farmers in Africa to benefit from school meal programs
Date:10/15/2009

A new project that aims to help local farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and to provide healthy school meals for local children launches today. The project, run by the Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London, is supported in part by a $12 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project will help governments to run school meal programmes using locally-sourced food, providing regular orders and a reliable income for local farmers. While many countries in sub-Saharan Africa already have school meal programmes in place, these programmes are traditionally run by international aid agencies, mostly using imported food. The new initiative will work in conjunction with education, health and agricultural sectors, social workers and international development partners, such as the World Bank and the World Food Programme.

Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of whom are women, can often find it difficult to earn enough money to feed their families. They typically have small patches of land where they are only able to grow small amounts or poor quality food because they cannot afford modern seeds and fertilisers, and they lack access to a regular and lucrative market to sell their goods.

"By putting school feeding programmes using locally-sourced food in place, we can ensure that the smallholder farmers who supply the food get a reliable income that helps them look after their families and improve their businesses. We want to give them the skills and know-how to shape their own futures and beat poverty," said Dr Lesley Drake, project lead, from the Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London.

Through the new project, the Partnership aims to ensure a reliable and fair market for local farmers' products. The project will work with African governments and local partners to identify and provide the information, expertise, and training that smallholder farmers will need in
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Contact: Lucy Goodchild
lucy.goodchild@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46702
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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