Durbin Announces $25 Million Grant to University of Illinois to Increase Food Supply in Africa

University Will Lead An International Consortium to Boost Soybean Production, Distribution in High-Needs Countries

[CHAMPAIGN, IL] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is receiving a $25 million federal grant to lead a consortium of universities and non-governmental organizations working to increase the food supply in Africa by improving soybean yields in five countries on the continent.  The five-year grant is administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).


“Over the years, it has been my privilege to support the research that has made the University of Illinois a national leader in soybean study,” said Durbin, who has secured $xx in support of the University's National Soybean Research Laboratory.  “This $25 million grant will allow U of I and its partners to improve crop yields and increase the food supply in a part of the world that badly needs it.  U of I is an international leader in researching and developing the next-generation crops that will help feed burgeoning populations across the world, and today’s grant solidifies and further strengthens the role the university plays in fighting hunger across the globe.  I congratulate U of I on this award and look forward to the benefits it will bring to the people of Africa.”


The grant will allow the University of Illinois to lead a group of soybean researchers, economists, social scientists and private sector partners in boosting soybean production in Africa and improving the nutrition and pathways to market for 30,000 small farmers, increasing incomes and boosting food security on the continent.  The consortium will research genetic improvements and crop management practices to adapt to the African climate, centering its efforts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soybean Germplasm Collection housed at the University of Illinois' National Soybean Research Laboratory.  The group's findings, along with other best practices, will be demonstrated to local growers at designated African farms. 


The consortium will also connect farmers with soybean processors and work to improve nutrition in targeted villages by educating families on soybean processing and cooking. The group will focus its efforts on farmers and families in Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Ethiopia.


The National Soybean Research Laboratory develops innovative processing and marketing techniques involving soy. The center explores the genetics of soybeans, responds to marketplace challenges and assists in expanding the scope, size and profitability of the U.S. soybean industry.


According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 196 million Africans are undernourished and 40 million currently face a severe food shortage.  In Zambia alone, over 47% of the population is undernourished.