#ScienceAgenda: African Agriculture Bigwigs Stress the Need for the Modernization of Africa’s Food Production System Using Science.

A three-day workshop to validate the synthesis of regional and national consultations conducted earlier this year in line with the roll-out of the Science Agenda for Africa (S3A) was opened on Wednesday, the 26th of July 2017 at the Secretariat of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa in Accra.

Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the workshop is a joint initiative of FARA, the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), the African Union Commission (AUC), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and the sub-regional organizations (SROs) from the African continent: The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and the North African Sub-Regional Organisation (NAASRO).

The Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo and H.E William Hanna, the European Union (E.U) Ambassador to Ghana at the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa Continental Synthesis and Validation Workshop.

In his welcome address, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo – the Executive Director of FARA pointed out that Africa has finally decided to take the bull by the horn to deploy the tools made available by science to address the threats to food production system. He stressed the need for the modernization of Africa’s food production systems using science to win the battle in food and nutrition security in Africa. He also reminded participants of Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, the outgoing President of IFAD’s saying that: “Africa’s agriculture is too important to be outsourced…” and due attention be given to science and technology in agriculture. In view of this, he said that Africa must run with its own agenda and deliver homegrown solutions for food security.

“In the march towards achieving the Malabo target, Africa needs to close the deific gap and reduce the 35-billion-dollar bill on the continent. Having conducted regional and national consultation, this continental synthesis and validation meeting calls for every African country to be science, technology and innovation prepared and compliant” – Yemi Akinbamijo.

The Science Agenda he said, will become increasingly important as it is the basis for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) investments. He said placing research and innovation at the heart of Africa is the way to go as the letters R and I are even central in the name Africa and that is what the S3A does.

Dr. Akinbamijo expressed his appreciation to the Science for Agriculture Consortium (S4AC) partners for working with FARA during the development process as well as during the consultations towards designing the investment proposal and financial plan for the Science Agenda. He also lauded the dedication and hard work of the staff of FARA and very grateful for the trust and confidence the AUC and NEPAD have in FARA and the entire S4AC.  

In an address made on his behalf, Dr. Victor Agyeman, the Director General of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana said he deems it a privilege to be in partnership with FARA on this agenda as it is paramount to the socio-economic development of our continent. He said the roll out of the Science Agenda comes at a good time as there are prevalent threats to agricultural production in Africa. He cited the instance of the battle of the army worm in over twenty sub-Saharan African countries. He said the continent needs a strong base in agricultural research and innovation systems to be able to eliminate threats of this kind.

H.E. William Hanna, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana indicated that a profound transformation of Agriculture and food systems is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals especially in relation to poverty, hunger and food security, climate change, and ecosystem sustainability. He stated that agricultural research and innovation are key driving forces of this transformation. Concluding his speech, H.E. Hanna said that he is confident that the E.U. will continue to foster partnerships and consider support for this cause, and called on all to work together to create a good environment for Africans not to look out of the continent for greener pastures while the grass is greenest in Africa.

Group Picture of Participants at the Workshop.

Dr. Malu Ndavi, of IFAD supported the idea of a continental agenda for African agriculture saying that there is no way we can have improvement in agriculture without science. He added that the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa is the only subsistent operation that is profitable for the continent as it is science for and by Africa. He warned that the S3A is too important to be dependent on external funding; the African governments must invest in their own research for Africa. He encouraged stakeholders of African agriculture to uphold evidence based agricultural development.

Mr. Tabi Karikari who represented the African Development Bank (AfDB) made it clear that his institution stands with the initiators of the S3A and the bank strongly believes in its priorities to feed the Africa hence, the development of AfDB’s Feed Africa Strategy. He believes such vision can transform Africa by prioritizing the agricultural value chains and urges that science and research should be done in a way to bring results to the farmer.

In an address made in the name of the World Bank, Dr. Abdoulaye Toure lauded the S3A idea calling it a new vision, a new strategy and a new development plan which assures the banks of supporting an African generated idea. As food security, unemployment and climate change appear to be Africa’s challenge for the next decade, Dr. Toure recommends science as the pillar for the expected transformation.

In a keynote address delivered on his behalf, Ghana Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Owusu Akoto Afriyie congratulated FARA and all partners for the success in pulling off the consultative process. Speaking for the government of Ghana, he said: “We are proud to be chosen among the five countries (the Tier 1 countries: Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Egypt, Ghana)”.

Dr. Afriye added that the Government recognizes the positive contributions that Africa’s growing science is contributing to the development of Ghana and Africa. In support of the idea that Africa finances the Science Agenda, the minister said that Africa’s reliance on donor funding for direction has helped but not sufficient enough to cause Africa’s development.

In the closing remarks, Mr. Fredua Agyeman- the Director of Environment from the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation pointed out that it is very crucial to have the governments of the Tier 1 countries to place the Science Agenda as a priority in their country budgets. He said since Africa is rich in natural resources but socio-economically poor, the only way the continent can be developed is to add value to its natural resources; science, technology and innovation is key in this transformation.

The three-day workshop is to validate the synthesis of regional and national consultations conducted earlier this year with reference to the theory of change, value-add, the science priorities and the implementation arrangements.

Participants of workshop are mainly from the tier-one countries with which the implementation of the Science Agenda is to begin: Egypt, Ghana Malawi, Rwanda and Senegal. Among the participants are the representatives of research systems of the countries mentioned, international and regional agricultural research centres, civil society representatives, development partners and the media.

For the event pictures, click here.

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