Harnessing science, technology to increase productivity

The General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is a statutory triennial event held to refocus investment in agricultural research, technology and innovation to ensure food and nutrition security on the continent. FARA is the continental apex organisation for agricultural research and innovation in Africa.

At the 8th General Assembly of FARA held   online in Ghana, speakers canvassed support for continental agricultural research to  solve food production problems. They postulated that increased deployment of technology would help to revolutionise and  improve the performance of African agriculture.

In his keynote presentation to the General Assembly, the  President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, called for the strengthening of research for development institutions.

He affirmed with empirical data that the technology delivery platforms  were  working and that it was time to revamp FARA and to support the development of the agriculture value chains.

He said hunger was the greatest risk confronting Africa, and to mitigate tthe risk, it  was imperative to urgently combine efforts on food security and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Adesina, the days of pilot work  were  over in Africa and it was time to work at scale and faster, to reach tens of millions of farmers with technologies and accelerated market access and financing to stimulate wealth generation.

Adesina commended FARA for braving the odds of the pandemic to hold its General Assembly and highlighted the impact of  COVID-19 on food and nutrition security on the continent and the efforts required to mitigate its effects.

“Africa today has some 250 million people who are malnourished…while collectively we must tackle the impact of COVID-19, hunger is the greatest risk facing Africa. Without good nutrition, medicines and vaccines just don’t work. Therefore, we must now urgently combine food security and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Adesina recapped the impressive results from the deployment of technologies to show that science, technology delivery platforms, and institutional partnerships for delivery can be leveraged to push Africa’s agriculture forward. He urged stakeholders to do more to significantly strengthen institutions for research and development.

Re-emphasising the bank’s commitment to supporting the research ecosystem, Adesina stated: “It is time to revamp FARA and the ecosystems of research and development at the regional levels…African agricultural systems must become modern, integrated and well supported to achieve production and processing of food and agricultural products and farming inputs at scale.The AfDB will strongly support FARA, farmers’ organisations and the private sector to expand and sustain the success stories of Africa’s agriculture”.

The African Union Commission’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko, said “Africa cannot put agricultural research development aside and still aim to transform agriculture and report good performance. It is a paradox.”

Emphasising the need to prioritise investment in agriculture science research for development in Africa, Ambassador Sacko cited examples from other continents which are reaping the benefits of investing in agricultural  science research, to provide the latest cost-effective technologies to their farming populations.

“We can no longer wait for bailouts that are not forthcoming, to run African agricultural science, technology and innovation”.

The Executive Director, FARA, Yemi Akinbamijo, called on the agricultural research for development sector to unite and implement a roadmap for food and nutrition security.

“Agriculture is biology, and our agriculture is as good as our science. FARA drives the AU’s mandate to strengthen the application of science and technology to accelerate agricultural transformation in Africa and ensure equitable access to resources like the International Research Consortium. Meanwhile, it is vital that African partners play their part to help drive the agenda for improved food and nutrition security across the continent.”


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