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Good News - Peace & Freedom - Africa can feed itself

Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Africa can feed itself. And it can make the transition from hungry importer to self-sufficiency in a single generation.
The startling assertions, in stark contrast with entrenched, gloomy perceptions of the continent, highlight a collection of studies published today that present a clear prescription for transforming Sub-Saharan Africas agriculture and, by doing so, its economy.
The strategy calls on governments to make African agricultural expansion central to decision making about everything from transportation and communication infrastructure to post-secondary education and innovation investment.
The approach is outlined in an independent study, "The New Harvest, Agricultural Innovation in Africa," led by Harvard University professor Calestous Juma.
And it is gathering political momentum, with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to launch the report at a retreat of East African Community (EAC) Heads of State in Arusha, Tanzania, Thursday, December 2. Following a presentation by Professor Juma, President Kikwete will chair a discussion with Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, on policies and strategies to address persistent food insecurity in the East Africa in light of climate change.
(See also an EAC news release online at www.eac.int/about-eac/eacnews/520.html)
Preliminary results of the study, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were adopted earlier this year by the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the continent's largest trading bloc.
"African agriculture is at the crossroads," says Dr. Juma, a professor of international development at Harvard Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and recognized globally for his work in applying science and technology to sustainable development.
With its vast untapped resources, Africa enjoys tremendous potential and opportunities but remains characterized by persistent food shortages, which may be worsened by climate change unless efforts to change direction are stepped up.
"We have come to the end of a century of policies that favoured Africas export of raw materials and importation of food. Africa is starting to focus on agricultural innovation as its new engine for regional trade and prosperity," he says.
"Yet Africa has abundant arable land and labor which, with an agreed common approach and sound policies, could translate into greater production, incomes and food security."
"The plan would combine the use of modern science and technology, infrastructure expansion, improved technical education, and stimulation of business development. By focusing on women and rural prosperity, Africa would create a more inclusive agricultural revolution."
Key elements in the transition include:
  • Use of modern technologies (including modern biotechnology) and investment in geographical sciences for improved natural resource management;
  • Continued expansion of basic infrastructure (telecommunications, transportation, energy, and irrigation);
  • Improved technical education, especially for women and provision of experiential education;
  • Creation of new enterprises, especially in fields such as seed production, farm mechanization, food storage and processing;
  • Harmonization of trading practices that extends regional markets;
  • Close cooperation between government, industry, academia and civil society in policy formulation and implementation;
  • Leadership by presidents and prime ministers to coordinate critical input involved a diversity of powerful ministries dealing with finance, infrastructure, education, trade and industry, and regional cooperation.

Full story here

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