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Technology Helps Fight Hunger at its Roots

Did you know the growth of 40 percent of children under age 5 in Africa is stunted due to malnutrition? Intel partnered on a project to restore the health of cassava crops, an essential source of calories and income for millions of families on the continent.

Restoring the cassava crops

Like millions of farmers in Africa, Déo supports his family by growing carbohydrate-rich cassava, a common staple food for people in the developing world. A few years ago, two diseases—Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD)—began ravaging crops in the Great Lakes region of Africa, reducing yields by over 70 percent and rendering the plants inedible.  “I was totally destitute,” says Déo. “Feeding the family became such a problem that we ate at most just one meal a day.”

In 2007, the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) was launched to fight CMD and CBSD in six countries across the region. Goals included teaching farmers how to recognize and respond to the crop diseases, and disseminating disease-resistant varieties of planting material to families across the region. 

Video courtesy of Great Lakes Cassava Initiative

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As a project partner, Intel provided financial support and helped develop a rugged Intel® classmate PC-based platform coupled with distance learning and data collection software. More than 200 of the PCs were distributed to NGO field workers, who used them to educate farmers and track the spread of the diseases.

When GLCI concluded successfully in May 2012, over 3,000 farmer groups had learned how to fight the crop diseases, and more than 1.3 million farm families had received clean, disease-tolerant cassava planting material that enabled them to restore their food security and incomes. The project also had another significant impact: Building on the success of the Intel classmate PC-based solution, NGOs are embracing computing platforms—including Ultrabook™ systems—for field agents working on other projects. 

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