Context Global Development and General Mills, Inc. established the Rare Plant Partnership™ (RPP) with the aim of discovering, domesticating, and reintroducing ancient, nutrient-rich plants into national crop breeding programs and ultimately food production systems, giving smallholder farmers access to novel grains that can help address malnutrition in the poorest countries of the world.
As part of the RPP, Rich Oats for Africa (ROA) is a 5-year program funded by the Sall Family Foundation in May 2018 after the first successful domestication of an ancient oat variety originating in Morocco - Avena magna. Program work will focus on three countries: Morocco, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
ROA provides the opportunity to address acute nutritional needs via culturally relevant oat-based foods. By working in regions already using oats in traditional foods, these new, nutrient-dense oat varieties can benefit farming communities and develop local economies.
Abera Zemedu is a student and a farmer. He works on his family's farm in Chacha village, Amhara state. As he showed the Rich Oats team across their oat fields, he shared that his family has been growing oats in Debre Berhan for over twenty years - since before he was born. They have valued growing oats even when it was solely promoted as a fodder crop. He pointed out that they see the nutritional benefits for human consumption and to fatten the cattle they breed and sell. When asked if they have an interest in a higher-yielding variety of oats being introduced to the market, he responded, "Yes! We would be delighted. We are waiting and ready to expand our oats production."
His family's ambition is rooted in big dreams as Abera's father is encouraging his children to stay in school. While speaking to Abera, his younger sister came to the side of the field; she confidently told the group that she plans to be a doctor. Abera and his family hope growing oats will help her get there.
From the Rich Oats for Africa Program
Introducing the Avery Oat