Friday, September 29, 2017

Africa needs to harness the power of Science, Technology and Innovation to transform its Agriculture

By Esther Nakkazi

In an effort to transform agriculture and enhance food security, Africa needs to establish evidence-based policy and regulatory frameworks to facilitate effective utilisation of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), a conference heard.

The three day high level conference on the application of STI in harnessing opportunities for Africa’s Agricultural transformation opened in Uganda (26th-28th), as policy makers articulated policy options to guide changes needed in Africa’s farming systems if the continent is to be bread basket for the world.

The conference marks the beginning of an annual high-level policy dialogue platform hosted by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa. The theme is “Integrating the Path in Africa’s Agricultural Transformation”.

It provides an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences on best technological and policy options available to stimulate sustainable agricultural development in Africa, he added.

“Agriculture is the sector upon which the success of sub Saharan Africa’s ambition for a steady economic growth rests. However, the yields of both crops and livestock in the region remains very low compared to global averages due to several challenges,” said President Yoweri Museveni in a speech read for him by Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal husbandry and Fisheries.

“Some of these challenges require us to harness the power of STI to transform African agriculture,” said Museveni.

“Our efforts must begin by strengthening investments in breakthrough technologies, such as climate resilient and disease resistant crops and livestock using both conventional and genetically engineered approaches,” said Museveni.

According to Dr. Denis T Kyetera, the Executive Director, African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF) for Africa to fully take advantage of the exiting new developments in agriculture changes need to happen in the policy front and high-level policymakers should be fully supportive of the need to integrate STI into the path towards agricultural revolution.

“There is no better way of ensuring support by the decision makers than through constructive dialogues and continuous conversations among experts, farmers and policy makers,” said Dr. Kyetera.

“Since most of the constraints for using science technology engineering and innovation in Africa are similar, we are gathered here in this high level conference for us to agree on addressing key issues that are hindering use of science, technology and innovations in commercialization of African Agriculture,” said the Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Uganda .


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