Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a $15 million five-year extension under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut led by the University of Georgia. This critical investment supports efforts that scale peanut-based innovations to improve global food security and resilience.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, also called the Peanut Innovation Lab, brings together research institutions in the U.S. and Africa to transform agriculture – specifically, the cultivation, storage, marketing and consumption of peanuts – by empowering farmers with resilient new peanut varieties and production practices, expanding markets to increase consumption, developing knowledge about gender and family dynamics, and building research capacity on the continent.
Structured around four priorities — varietal development and seed systems; production packages and mechanization; quality; and, gender and youth — most of the Peanut Innovation Lab’s research is conducted in Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda. The lab works in specific value-chains to evaluate innovations and interventions at scale and achieve more sustainable outcomes.
“We’re impressed with the Peanut Innovation Lab’s depth and breadth of research and with the strong relationships the team has developed with national research programs across Africa,” said Robert Bertram, Chief Science Officer USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. “USAID looks forward to the next five years of driving this research to scale with smallholder farmers and consumers.”
Launched in 2018, the Peanut Innovation Lab’s initial funding of $14 million supported more than 20 research projects, including several led by African scientists. The program helped foster a network of groundnut breeders across Africa working together to use the genetic diversity of groundnut to release improved varieties. Research has also helped shape best management practices to improve the quality and size of farmers’ crops, provide insight into how consuming peanuts help children perform better in school, create new knowledge on gendered roles and intrahousehold time use and labor allocation in households that grow peanuts, and assess barriers and opportunities for youth engagement in peanut value chains.
With USAID’s support for an additional five years, the Peanut Innovation Lab is well-positioned to scale many of these innovations for greater impact in the region. The Peanut Innovation Lab is one of 20 Feed the Future Innovation Labs, led by U.S. universities and funded by USAID, that work on food security and nutrition challenges with local researchers and institutions in the Agency’s partner countries.
“This is important work, and it’s been amazing to see how much scientists working together have learned over the past five years. Despite a global pandemic and other challenges, we have made breakthroughs that already are improving farmers’ livelihoods and consumers’ access to healthy peanuts,” said Peanut Innovation Lab Director Dave Hoisington. “It is exciting that USAID is investing five years of funding to scale out these innovations and allow the work to have maximum impact.”