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.
If a market-driven agricultural productivity recovery is to be initiated, improved governance, market access, information, transport and communications are vital complements to science and technology. Increased domestic market opportunities for both food and non-food commodities depend crucially on improved access by Africa to international markets and seamless intra- and inter-regional trade within Africa. The former is constrained by oecd agricultural subsidies and increased use of non-tariff barriers as tariff rates are reduced under the wto regimes. If trade is to become an instrument of hunger and poverty alleviation, it must be free, competitive and fair. Many otherwise viable technology options for Africa produced by past research remain under-exploited because of high input prices and low output prices that result from under-investments in markets and infrastructure, structural adjustment programs and distortions in international markets. The scale of the increased investments needed to make a real difference in agricultural productivity growth and improved food security are well within the reach of African governments and the international community.
Creating an effective policy environment, capable of exploiting the potential that science and technology offers, will require innovative ways to engage smallholders to become better informed and more active participants in markets, policy processes and priority setting in agricultural research and development. African countries need increased capacity to address product quality, comply with biosafety standards and phytosanitary requirements, and work with regulatory regimes related to GMOs. They also need the skills to negotiate effectively with OECD-importing countries. Only then will the private sector express its unrealized potential to contribute to the agricultural productivity recovery.