MSU Launches Food Research Hub in Africa


The Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at Michigan State University — which aims to find solutions to problems affecting global food production — has launched a regional innovation hub in Malawi, in southeast Africa.

We are excited to continue our relationship with (Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources) while testing innovative solutions to food system challenges that can be scaled throughout the world,” says Eric Crawford, director of the GCFSI.

While projects will vary by year, the hub’s researchers will begin with the development and introduction of multi-purpose legumes. Specifically, MSU faculty will work with the Lilongwe University program to address where and how multipurpose legumes can be scaled for sustainable intensification of maize systems and what the potential impacts will be across the food system in Malawi.

Multi-purpose legumes produce both food and fodder, with vegetative growth and deep roots for 10 or more months that promote nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilizing, and soil organic matter building. In addition, the food source provides three times as much biomass as annual field crops, helping to support healthy livestock.

The characteristics make multi-purpose legumes, combined with maize, more attractive and more likely to be adopted than traditional agroforestry systems, Crawford says.

IN OTHER MSU NEWS, research shows a lack of sleep can lead to errors in memory. The study — led by faculty at MSU and the University of California, Irvine — found participants who got five or fewer hours of sleep were more likely to mix up event details than participants who were well rested.

People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,” said Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. “It’s not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk.”

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