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Nearly 200 million Africans, most of them children, are undernourished. These people lack "food security": they do not have access at all times to enough food to lead active, healthy lives. In this article, Gordon Conway and Gary Toenniessen of the Rockefeller Foundation describe how intensifying agricultural production with genetic and agro-ecological technologies — in a sustainable way — gives reason for optimism.

They propose a system of agriculture that satisfies the needs of small-scale farmers in Africa, calling it a "doubly green revolution". It combines ecological agriculture with crop varieties designed to perform well under low-input conditions, and uses inorganic inputs very judiciously. It also stresses the importance of farmer participation.

The authors highlight three principal points: that farmers need access to affordable inputs; that modern science and technology must play a role; and that the costs of developing technologies are low. They call on African leaders, the donor community and research institutes (both public and private) to commit to attaining food security in Africa.

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Reference: Science 299, 1187 (2003)