13 December 2011 | EN
New institutions are needed to modernise farming in Africa
The scientific community should create a new generation of intergovernmental organisations that promote innovative science to address economic problems in Africa, argues Calestous Juma, professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, United States.
Science, technology and engineering are crucial to overcoming challenges in various sectors including health and agriculture. Yet, key international organisations do not encourage the role of innovation in development, says Juma.
For example, sustainable agriculture and food production in Africa will only be possible with biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But, organisations such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have even opposed the use of biotechnology in regions that stand to benefit from it, explains Juma.
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), created by the 1992 Earth Summit to advance fair sharing of the benefits of biotechnology, has limited the use of GMOs.
This is the right time for African countries to "break the logjam" by setting up new international organisations that focus on innovation, writes Juma. He suggests creating an "International Institute for Biotechnology" to help African farmers benefit from technological knowledge.
The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), established by scientists and engineers in the early 1900s to promote refrigeration-related technologies, could serve as a model, he says. Like the IIR, the International Institute for Biotechnology would be created with legislative authority from governments and invited agencies.
ironjustice ( Canada )
14 December 2011
"will only be possible with biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)."
THAT would be , for example , cassava that has been genetically modified to remove cyanide ? That same cassava that has been shown to protect people from sickle cell ?
"Cyanates can control the sickle cell crisis. Thiocyanate is thought to be the active molecule that helps people with sickle-shaped Red Blood Cells."
RachelKenya ( Backpack Farm Agriculture Program | Kenya )
23 December 2011
I am fighting waves of nausea. Was this just a pro-propaganda article for the use of biotech / GMO In African agriculture? Until farmers can increase their production rates from 15-20% by building core capacity while simultaneously reducing post harvest losses, GMO is not the solution to long term food security unless we are going to dismiss the lands rights of every smallholder farmer and invite industrial FDI to develop Africa's most fertile lands. No, I am not a left wing nutter, simply a proponent of practical and pro-poor investments and new technologies like drip irrigation! Amazing how no one ever talks about the price comparison between planting an acre of GMO seed vs investing in an acre of drip irrigation than can be reused for 5-7 years.
Yoges ( South Africa )
30 January 2012
How do we empower and enable smallholder farmers, for their active engagement / organization for enhancing their access to skills, technology, innovation, extension, finance, infrastructure, logistics and value addition/ or new market opportunities?
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