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Researchers from across the African continent will be able to develop new crops and make them cheaply available to small-scale farmers, thanks to a new initiative by scientists at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation. The programme relies on the transfer of technologies generated by global research activities. African farmers are able to take advantage of these technologies — normally protected by intellectual property rules — because of the AATF negotiates special access to them

In this article, Victor Bwire describes the way that the new initiative uses the knowledge, contacts and best practices developed by several national and regional agricultural research institutes for the benefit of the African farmer. African researchers also use technologies developed by private agricultural companies, mostly from the industrialised countries, to develop local agricultural products in local laboratories after determining what is the right technology for each specific country.

The programme has already proved that it can produce high crop yields and pest and weed-resistance in maize, rice, cowpeas, cassava and bananas.

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