Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies. Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.
Enhancing the impact of science and technology in African agriculture is not only a matter of more resources, but also of using those resources more efficiently and effectively. Since the 1970s, there have been efforts to improve the performance of national agricultural research systems throughout Africa. Reforms of the 1980s and 1990s emphasized consolidation of research capacity and improvements in the internal organization and management of agricultural research, while the more recent reforms tried to make agricultural research organizations more outward looking, client oriented and impact driven. In its consultations in Africa, the Study Panel detected a considerable amount of 'reform fatigue,' both among senior management and scientists. They have seen resources for research continue to erode in spite of the proliferation of new models and paradigms. All this has left most of them demoralized and confused.
A recent review of NARS reforms in seven African countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda) identified five major reform themes that dominate the current agenda (Chema and Roseboom, 2004; Chema et al., 2003), namely: