Agricultural scientists adopt six-point call to action to feed Africa


The 7th African Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and General Assembly (GA) of the Forum for Agricultural Research for Africa (FARA) has ended with the adoption of a six-point call-to-action to be implemented over the next three years to support efforts at achieving the ‘Africa Feed Africa’ initiative and also impact livelihoods on the continent.

The call to action was adopted by a high level team of experts in Agriculture at the Kigali roundtable held as part of the 4-day 7th AASW and FARA GA in Camp Kigali, Rwanda.

Presenting the call to action, Dr.  Geraldine Mukeshimana-Minister of Agriculture and Animal resources of Rwanda, said participants at the 7th AASW and FARA GA called on actors in African agriculture research and innovation to join forces to facilitate increased adoption of appropriate technology and innovation by rural communities to sustainably increase their productivity.

This can be achieved by spelling out innovative technology platform models across Africa.

They are to strengthen the capacity of research institutions to appreciate innovations of intermediary institutions and work with them to provide advisory services to end users, enabling them to adopt the innovations identified.

This should be supported by enabling regulatory framework and policies under rural infrastructure required.

There should be advocates for managing the desired agricultural and food systems of the future

Actors are to identify, prioritise and develop the research, innovation, capacities and actions required at all levels to meet current and future needs.

This requires strategic and critical assessment of existing demand to meet labour market needs.

Attention should be given to developing strong processes for multi-sectoral and stakeholder approaches toward building the needed synergies for greater buy-in to agricultural sector targets.

Institutional arrangements for coordinating agricultural corrective productions and capacity building at continental, sub-regional, and national levels should be strengthened

Key players and actors in agriculture were called on to promote the development of value chain agri-business and youth agri-preneurship.

This will in turn ensure institutional support for the creation of viable small and large-scale enterprises that add value to agricultural produce and deliver market needs in environmentally sustainable and socially equitable ways.

Actors should also ensure that the right policies and interventions are in place to promote intra-regional trade.

Focus should be given to institutional, financial and technical innovations that attract youth into all stages of the agricultural value chain.

Industry actors are to develop data and knowledge systems to create a public evidence-based and new mechanism that clearly demonstrates the most impact and return on investment in national and international agriculture and food research and innovations.

This will require advocates to push for open sharing of data and science applications in agriculture at national, regional, and global levels. It also requires cultivating a culture wherein decisions are informed by evidence.

Actors were called on to generate appropriate indicators of agricultural science, technology and innovation indicators for food nutrition, security, economic, social and health and environmental benefit, recognising the cost synergies and trade-offs.

Actors were also charged to establish the agric-science technology and innovation observatory.

Dr. Mukeshimana said the 7th AASW and FARA GA recognised the pivotal role of research and innovation in agriculture for achieving the goals and targets set out in the continent’s policy framework on agriculture.

She noted that policy frameworks such as the comprehensive agricultural development programme agreed by stakeholders in the Malabo Declaration to accelerate agricultural development and transformation through science, technology and innovation strategies for Africa, the African Development Bank’s ‘Africa Feed Africa’ initiative, and the UN’s sustainable development goals are all geared toward food security for Africa.

The minister said it was felt that ending poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Africa requires integrated agricultural innovation systems that are sustainable, equitable and economically viable for smallholder farmers, as well as ensuring equal opportunities for women,  the youth and the marginalised, so that no one is left behind.

According to her, to capitalise on increased application of science and technology as a means to improve livelihoods in terms of food and nutrition security, wealth and job-creation as well as natural resource management, the 7th AASW brought together key actors in agriculture research and innovation to deliberate on the critical actions required to achieve this goal, leading to development of the call to action.

The science week deliberated on five thematic areas: namely sustainable productivity; value chain in agribusiness and the youth; sustainable financing; data and knowledge systems; and capacity for development.