We apply science and innovations in our daily life. Without these, the quality of our life and our livelihoods would stagnate. The same applies to Africa when it comes to boosting its economic and agricultural development.
For many decades, ending hunger, malnutrition and poverty has been central to the world’s policy framework. Agriculture, has been daunted as a key factor in eliminating hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Africa but despite the efforts, the continent is yet to combat these three challenges.
Year in, year out, agricultural research is done but they stay in the labs failing to reach the intended beneficiaries, the farmers. But how do we apply science to improve the livelihoods of farmers?
In a bid to find ways of translating agricultural research into livelihoods, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa organised the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW7) to deliberate and discuss how science can be used to increase agricultural productivity and hence fight against poverty and malnutrition while creating employment for youth of Africa.
The event that attracted more than 700 participants from different African agricultural organisations was opened by Anaste Murekezi, the prime minister of Rwanda and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank
From the welcome statements and the key address, it was evident that science needs to be integrated with agriculture if we are to feed the growing human population.
This was a fact re-enforced by Mr. Michael Ryan, Head of EU delegation to Rwanda, in his welcome statement. He emphasised on research being a major component of agricultural productivity. Agricultural research has generated numerous relevant technologies with high potential but the impact of these technologies is missing when it comes to farm productivity, improvement of livelihoods and quality of life.
On the other hand, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology AUC, emphasised on how political will can be the downfall factor for agriculture as the sector plays a key role in the socioeconomics of the countries in Africa. For Africa to feed the growing population, then we must increase holistically increase its productive capacity for agriculture.
Dr. Akinwumni Adesina, the president of the Africa Development Bank emphasised on the need to invest in the agricultural sector as the backbone of most economies in Africa.We all need to ask ourselves what kind of agriculture we are doing, how much we are investing in the sector and what returns are we expecting?
These questions can lead one to reflect on how many billions we spend on importing food and how much we lose when exporting raw materials from the continent. For instance, we buy chocolates, the finished product, at a high price but export cocoa, the raw product, at a throw-away price.
Blogpost by Olivier Ngwije, olivierngwije(at)gmail.com, #AASW7 social reporter.
This post represents the author’s views only.
Picture courtesy CIAT