Published: July 21, 2014

GCFSI launches research hub in Malawi

Contact(s): Abby Rubley Center for Global Connections in Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources office: (517) 884-4675

The USAID-supported Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at Michigan State University recently launched a regional innovation hub in Malawi in partnership with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The primary goal of the innovation hub is to support MSU and its partner institutions in seeking, creating and scaling innovations in food systems through a series of projects implemented within the region.

“MSU has a long history of working in Malawi,” said Eric Crawford, GCFSI director. “We are excited to continue our relationship with LUANAR while testing innovative solutions to food system challenges that can be scaled throughout the world.”

A series of projects launched through the hub will identify and test innovative solutions to problems driven by population growth, land pressure, climate change and urbanization, and their impacts on food systems and food security. Projects will vary by year, location, USAID mission goals and nature of innovative solutions that emerge from the research.

In Malawi, innovation is the development and introduction of multi-purpose legumes. Faculty teams from MSU will be working with LUANAR to address where and how multipurpose legumes can be scaled for sustainable intensification of maize systems and what the potential impacts will be across the food system in Malawi.

Multi-purpose legumes are long-lived legumes that are bushes and vines. They produce both food and fodder, with vegetative growth and deep roots for 10 or more months, that promote nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilizing and soil organic matter building. They provide three times as much biomass as annual field crops, helping to support healthy livestock. These characteristics make multi-purpose legumes, combined with maize, more attractive and more likely to be adopted than traditional agroforestry systems.

GCFSI is one of eight development labs funded by the U.S. Global Development Lab’s Higher Education Solutions Network. Its mission is to create, test and enable scaling of effective solutions and evidence-based approaches to a defined set of future critical global trends impacting food systems.

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