Working in partnership to accelerate Agricultural Technology Transfer to developing countries (AgriTT)

AgriTT was an innovative, trilateral, £7.5 million programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by Landell Mills between January 2013 and March 2017. The programme was one of DFID’s first projects to effectively triangulate UK Aid with Chinese South-South cooperation. AgriTT improved agricultural productivity and food security in developing countries by bringing together Chinese agricultural development practice and technology expertise, with UK research and project management experience, and the local knowledge of African and Asian partners.

Landell Mills won the International Collaborative Project award at the 2017 British Expertise International Awards for its management of the AgriTT programme.

AgriTT took an integrated approach, looking at both production technologies and other aspects of the value chain, including production, processing, distribution and marketing. The programme had three major components:

Pilot Development Projects

Pilot Development Projects were established in Malawi and Uganda, which focused on two commodities in which China has rapidly built major industries: tilapia and cassava.

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Malawi Pilot Development Project: improving tilapia production

Aquaculture in Malawi plays an important role in contributing to economic growth, employment, food security and nutrition. However, a lack of commercial activity in the sector means that critical elements of the market, such as feed and fingerling supply chains, have been severely neglected. 

This £1.36 million Pilot Development Project contributed to aquaculture productivity in Malawi by improving fingerling production, enhancing feed production, and demonstrating technologies for improved grow-out fish production. 

100 farmers were trained by Chinese experts in enhanced pond construction, pond management, using higher stocking rates and all-male fingerlings, improved feeding regimes, predation control and record keeping. The pilot demonstrated that yields can increase from current levels of around one tonne of fish per hectare to over six tonnes per hectare.

Other activities included the posting of three Chinese experts to the National Aquaculture Centre in Malawi to work on fingerling production. Over the course of the project, two million fingerlings were produced – double the production level before the project. District Fisheries Officers were also trained in improving fingerling production, providing them with technologies and practices to share with fish farmers.

Uganda Pilot Development Project: enhancing cassava value chains

Cassava has an essential role as a widespread, staple food crop in Uganda. This £1.03 million pilot supported development of cassava production, processing and value addition by demonstrating the potential of cassava as an industrial food commodity with many uses.

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90 farmers and district officials were trained by Chinese experts in mechanised cassava planting and harvesting using equipment imported from China, which included the establishment of eight demonstration gardens. Farmers were trained in ridge cassava production and other good agricultural practices. The yields from these gardens produced from 36 to 47 tonnes of cassava per hectare, a threefold increase on yields in the same area when using conventional production techniques.

Also as part of this pilot, food technology experts from Guangxi University in China were posted to Makerere University to help develop a range of cassava-based food products, including biscuits, breakfast cereals and snacks. These products serve to diversify cassava use and contribute to expanding market opportunities. Technologies for processing cassava were also explored under this pilot, including co-investment in a batch drying and processing facility.

Research Challenge Fund

Landell Mills launched an innovative Research Challenge Fund (RCF) in March 2013, inviting research partners from China, the UK, and low income countries in Africa and Asia to work together on research projects.

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Eleven trilateral, research projects were selected, each lasting up to two years and with a total value of £2.94 million. The projects included ‘tackling soil pest problems in Rwanda’ (pictured below), which involved the transferal of a Chinese bio-pesticide technology, and ‘AgriApp – using smartphone technology to reach farmers’, which provided farmers in Cambodia with access to agricultural information and guidance.

The eleven projects tested and transferred five technologies from China and analysed and made recommendations on how to improve 12 key value chains in low income countries. By enhancing knowledge flows relating to technology innovations, the developing country partners are able to make better informed decisions about their livelihoods.

Additional activities under the RCF included the design of four research facilities, and building the capacity of over 40 early career researchers.

Knowledge Sharing and Communication

AgriTT supported a range of knowledge sharing and communication activities, which brought together researchers and practitioners from China and developing countries in Africa and Asia, to share innovative solutions to agricultural productivity and food security. A £500,000 budget was allocated to these activities.

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The programme reached regional and international audiences through workshops, conferences, press coverage and wider dissemination through literature, videos and social media.

AgriTT was also showcased at several key, global events including the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Kigali, Rwanda (pictured left). Lead researchers from four of the RCF-funded projects presented on the lessons learnt from their experience of working in a trilateral partnership. The presentations generated significant interest and highlighted future recommendations such as the value of study trips to China.

In addition, AgriTT developed a range of knowledge products including an achievements brochure, 20 policy briefings in both Chinese and English, and a video on aquaculture in Africa.

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By applying China’s successful experience to a new context, AgriTT showed the impact of technology transfer and knowledge sharing across geographic, social, economic and cultural barriers. Find out more about AgriTT here.