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Delegates at the first scientific meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community's applied research programme agreed to harmonise their activities to avoid duplication.

They also agreed to strengthen links between scientists, policymakers and farmers both within and between countries.

The meeting, held on 16-17 February in Lilongwe, Malawi, focused on agricultural research. It was attended by scores of delegates from the community's 14 member nations.

Delegates agreed that farmers should be involved in the process of developing new technologies.

They urged researchers to assess traditional farming practices, in case they can be adapted to different situations, and to seek farmers' views on new technologies after they are introduced.

They added that agricultural research must be integrated with land and water management.

The meeting included presentations on traditional approaches to soil and water conservation in semi-arid environments, such as how to trap rainwater in fields.

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