The NFU has called on retailers and the British farming community to support African farmers by donating to a new appeal aiming to improve agricultural output in Africa.

The Africa 100 campaign, launched this week, is the product of a joint collaboration between the NFU and the agricultural charity Farm-Africa to mark the NFU’s centenary year. The union aims to make its first donation on its centenary date of 10 December 2008 and letters to retailers have already been sent out urging them to pledge cash.

The money raised will be channelled through the charity’s Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund and will go towards improving production of staple food crops in African countries including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

The emphasis of the project is on providing targeted funds to African farmers as an alternative to short-term food aid, reflecting the importance of sustainable agricultural systems in ensuring long-term food security. “I think most of us recognise that these times of increased food prices are a turning point in farm profitability for many farmers, but also a cause of real problems for the world’s poor,” said NFU president Peter Kendall.
The NFU is looking for a minimum voluntary donation of £100 to reflect its centenary anniversary. However, in recognition of the large differences in income throughout the farming sector at present, it is encouraging smaller farmers to simply give what they can afford. 

A previous emergency appeal for aid by Farm-Africa in 2001 prompted a strong response from the farming community, even though foot and mouth disease was raging at the time. 

Africa 100 gave producers in developing countries the chance to spread technical innovation within the industry, said Lord De Ramsey, chairman of Farm-Africa. 

One of Farm-Africa’s recent projects resulted in a yield increase in cassava from one tonne per acre to 6.66 tonnes per acre, and an increase in gross margin from £4 to £179 an acre.