Displaying 1-8 of 8 key documents
Source: Centre for Global Development | September 2011
This report outlines how ICT (information and communications technology) could facilitate the adoption of agricultural technologies that can contribute to improving crop yields in developing countries.
It reviews existing agricultural extension services — programmes that deliver information to farmers — which use ICT, categorised by the type of services and how they are provided (by text, for example, or the Internet). The report concludes that although these programs are innovative, implementing them remains a challenge and evidence of their impact is limited. It is not yet clear that ICT-based services will replace existing agricultural extension systems, and there is a risk that they will become unsustainable — a fad with limited impact on the lives of the poor. The report suggests evaluating pilot programmes using rigorous methods, and says that future efforts should calculate demand and cost-effectiveness, and identify information best suited to such programmes.
Source: Nature | November 2003
This feature article examines some of the key debates around the role of genetically modified (GM) technology in Africa.
The technology promises much to malnourished populations on a continent that climate change threatens to make even more inhospitable to crops. But anti-GM campaigners maintain that Africa's hunger crisis will not be solved by biotechnology.
US agri-biotech corporations such as Monsanto who lobby African governments to buy into such technology also have a large financial stake in rolling out GM over such a large continent. The anti-GM lobby, traditionally made up of environment charities such as Greenpeace, are now seeing aid charities such as Oxfam join its ranks.
The real stand-off, however, is between the largely pro-GM United States and a cautious Europe. The US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is pro-GM, has provided millions of dollars to support biosafety policymaking and research in the developing world.
European countries meanwhile do not rule out introducing GM technology to Africa but want GM products labelled and traceable to their source. The deciding factor may be how effective GM is in improving nutrition — and that remains under debate.
Source: African Journal of Biotechnology | November 2004
This scientific article provides an insight into the status of public research in genetically modified (GM) crops in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2004.
The authors document 54 transgenic 'events' — specific instances of genetic transformation — across the four countries. They identify work to develop GM strains for 20 crops, including cotton, maize, potatoes, sugar cane, tomatoes and wheat. South Africa is shown to be a particularly important centre for biotech research, accounting for 28 out of the 54 events examined.
The authors call for a simplified system to facilitate regulatory approval of GM crop trials and commercial releases across the continent as a whole and suggest measures to encourage inter-institutional links and South–South collaborations.
Source: International Journal of Biotechnology | 2005
This research article, by Rosemary Wolson at the University of Cape Town, assesses South Africa's biotechnology policies, reviewing three major initiatives — the national research and development strategy, biotechnology strategy and proposed laws to govern intellectual property rights derived from publicly funded research. Wolson explains the origins, goals and implementation of each.
The projects aim to create a coordinated strategy for promoting biotechnology in South Africa. Wolson concludes that the efforts are an encouraging sign of governmental commitment, but notes the continuing challenge of integrating the individual projects into a coherent framework. This may depend on promoting social networks to catalyse innovative industries.
She calls for the government to encourage more private enterprise and investment while remaining committed to basic research.
This article is useful to anyone hoping to understand the policy framework for biotechnology in one of sub-Saharan Africa's key scientific and industrial powers.
Source: International Journal of Biotechnology | 2005
In this research article, Victor Konde of the University of Zambia argues that industrial biotechnologies can improve food security in Africa through improved livestock feeds and vaccines, as well as biotechnological pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides. He adds that biotechnology can also help farmers process crop and livestock products for new markets.
But Africa must first overcome a number of key challenges, says Konde — including restrictions on agricultural exports, weaknesses in scientific capacity and investment, and a lack of diplomatic strength to effectively promote its interests in international negotiations.
The author proposes ways for African policymakers to encourage biotech enterprise and investment, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, strategic alliances and public–private partnerships.
Source: African Union | April 2001
The African Union (AU) developed the African Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology to help countries across the continent fulfil their obligations under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and manage related issues.
The AU encourages the development of a common position on biosafety regulation (see AU Biosafety Project) across the continent. It does not have the authority to legislate on behalf of its members — but it promotes the Model Law as a framework for individual countries to use in creating their own laws and institutions.
The Model Law is being revised through an ongoing consultation process before submission to AU governments for possible adoption at national level.
Source: Michigan State University | April 2001
An extensive (62 page) inventory examining the current status of agricultural biotechnology in countries belonging to The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) — Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
While not exhaustive, this inventory lists transgenic crops that are potentially available for field testing or commercial release within the next two to five years. The document was prepared for ASARECA primarily in order to provide the organisation with background information that enables them to develop their strategy for biotechnology research in the Eastern and Central Africa region. However, the authors also hope to demonstrate the potential benefits — in the short and longer term — of agricultural biotechnology to Africa.
The report is clearly written and provides much useful background information as well as brief descriptions of current projects.
Source: IFPRI | January 2003
Despite an element of pessimism that often surrounds dialogues about African agriculture, there are numerous examples of localised successes. Following an extensive survey of over 100 experts in African agriculture, the authors of this discussion paper identify common factors linked to such success and suggest how these might underpin broad-based agricultural growth in Africa.
Numerous "success stories" are cited, and include commodity driven (such as improved crop varieties), activity-led (including policy reforms), institutional successes (including market organisations) and country-level successes (such as the agriculturally-powered post-independence period in the Ivory Coast).
Analysis of each of these cases reveals that the actions and attitudes of individual farmers and trading firms are central to success. The public sector also has a key role to play in helping influence change for individuals as well as the external environment. In addition, science-based technology emerges as a strong driver of agricultural growth in Africa.
The paper's authors conclude that better incentives for change must be provided, as well as means to respond to these incentives. Success is also likely to follow where new technology is being adopted.