Kansas State University


Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

Solar-Powered Multipurpose Traction Unit

The SIIL-funded Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC), and their Michigan State University (MSU) project, has developed a new traction unit specifically designed to address the needs of the smallholder farmer in sub-Saharan Africa. The ASMC researchers, led by co-PI Dr. Ajit Srivastava, came up with this solar-powered, scale-appropriate, sustainable, and multifunctional machine, to aid smallholder farmers with many of their daily tasks— these include threshing, planting, irrigation, milling and weed control. 70% of the farmers targeted by this technology still use manual labor to perform these tasks, with only 10% using any kind of mechanization. The final 20% use animal labor, a method of farm labor is not without its own costs and issues. By using this machine, farmers in the ASMC target-countries can increase and intensify their production, while reducing costs and human drudgery.

Check out the great video that the ASMC-MSU produced to showcase the machine. It features this exciting and innovative technology, explaining in more detail the solar-powered traction unit’s specifications and uses, along with a demonstration of its functions. We are excited to promote the new ways our funded projects are able to extend sustainable intensification around the world!

Sustainable Intensification Assessment Framework

The interactive SI Toolkit is here! The SI Toolkit is a dynamic, online platform designed to aid researchers and development workers in assessing sustainable agricultural intensification across five domains: productivity, economic, environmental, human condition, and social. Users can navigate the SI Toolkit to select appropriate indicators and metrics and visualize tradeoffs and synergies using the Radar Chart Generator. The idea behind this tool is to provide people with indicators that will allow them to assess an innovation in terms of eventual consequences, both direct and indirect. Additionally, the tool aims to make sure those innovations and their eventual goals are treated holistically, thereby increasing the odds of continuing the practices in a sustainable way. The SI Toolkit was developed by SIIL management entity researchers: Zach Stewart, Jan Middendorf, and Vara Prasad building from the Sustainable Intensification Assessment Framework Guide and Manual developed by Mark Musumba, Philip Grabowski, Cheryl Palm, and Sieglinde Snapp. The SI Toolkit was formally launched in Baltimore, Maryland on November 5, 2018 during the Agronomy Society of America’s annual meeting. The launch included a symposium organized by SIIL titled, “Scaling of Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Practices” and a live demo of the SI Toolkit. Continue reading “Sustainable Intensification Assessment Framework”

2018 World Food Prize Spotlight:  SIIL Panel Discussion on “Youth Engagement in Agriculture”

From left to right:  Adam Keally, Channaty Ngang, Dr. Jan Middendorf, Fatou Tine, Dr. Lyda Hok (Photo credit: Andra Williams)


The World Food Prize (WFP) is a week-long set of events drawing over 1,000 participants globally, where people can attend numerous events dealing with global agriculture and food security. This year’s theme, “Rise to the Challenge”, coincided nicely with the focus of SIIL’s panel discussion, “Youth Engagement in Agriculture”.  We were fortunate to have representatives from our projects in Senegal and Cambodia, as well as several SIIL staff members, discuss their thoughts on the importance of engaging youth in agriculture. As SIIL director Dr. Vara Prasad stated in his opening remarks, “Dr. Norman Borlaug was passionate about engaging youth in agriculture”, and the WFP is dedicated not only to honoring the memory of Dr. Borlaug, but also to continuing his legacy.

Continue reading “2018 World Food Prize Spotlight:  SIIL Panel Discussion on “Youth Engagement in Agriculture””