Friday, September 22, 2017

Conference to share the status of Agriculture in Africa; the current, past and future trends

By Esther Nakkazi

Uganda in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, the African Union Commission and the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa are organizing a three-day (27th-29th September) high-level conference on the application of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) in harnessing opportunities for Africa’s agricultural transformation.

"The meeting targets policymakers and is going to promote technologies that are applicable in Africa," said Dr. Denis Kyetera, the Executive Director, African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF).

"Ministers will engage each other and share what technologies are available in their countries. This will eventually create a conversation between the different ministries," said Dr. Kyetera.

For Africa to benefit from cutting-edge science, technology and innovation it needs to address five key issues said Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) in Uganda.

"The unpredictable STI policy environment; the presence of strict liability bio-safety regulatory frameworks; low technology access; insufficient command among its leaders on STI; low public investments in agricultural research, development and public perceptions."

Dr. Tumwesigye particularly pointed out that Uganda like other African countries needs urgent interventions to find ways of mainstreaming utilization of STI to transform its agriculture needs.

The conference will showcase the current and potential impact of the application of science, technology and innovation for improved agricultural productivity, value-addition and poverty reduction. 

According to Dr. Tumwesigye, participants will also share a synopsis of the current status of agriculture in Africa capturing the past, current and future trends as well as showcase the significance of enabling systems in optimizing the impact and benefits of modern biotechnology to African agriculture.

But most importantly, it will facilitate constructive dialogue amongst high-level policymakers, experts, farmers, investor, regulators, communicators, development partners and the media on the role of STIs in sustainable food systems and nutrition in Africa.

Among the topics to be discussed will be; the state of agriculture in Africa, contributions of conventional STI to modern agriculture, integrating modern biotechnology into Africa’s agriculture for food security, securing smallholder farmers’ resilience to impacts of climate change, fostering evidence-based policies for transformational change in Africa’s agriculture, strengthening intellectual property rights to catalyze transformational change in Africa’s agriculture.

Other topics will be about inspiring a Climate for Change to enhance food security, regional approaches to biotech adoption and trade in Africa, winning political patronage//support to advances science in the age of ‘alternative facts’, repositioning agriculture in Africa towards agribusiness entrepreneurial ship, biosafety gate-keeping experiences in Africa: Case study of NBMA of Nigeria and South Africa  and the role of strategic communication in technology adoption for impact.

Targeted participants of the conference include leaders and decision-makers, including H.E. General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the President of the Republic of Uganda, Benjamin Mkapa former president of Tanzania, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Ms. Gina Grey Ivey from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Others are Dr. Hamadou Biteye the managing director Rockefeller foundation, Prof. Kevin Folta the University of Florida, Dr. C.D Mayee president Asian Biotechnology, Cyprian Ebong Executive director ASARECA, cabinet ministers, lead scientists/experts, farmer union leaders, industry captains, biotech advocacy/communication networks, senior science journalists/editors, Professors, UN representatives and development partners.

Uganda is one of the African countries with a ministry devoted to STI. The Uganda Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MoSTI) was created in June 2016 in recognition of the need by Government to explicitly prioritize issues relating to STI as a key driver for Economic Development. 


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