Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture

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.

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.

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  • Acknowledgements

    The Study Panel is grateful to the 150 participants in the four consultative workshops held in Africa, for giving of their valuable time and insights. This enabled the identification of the major strategic challenges and opportunities, which the Study Panel found so effective in guiding its deliberations and in drafting this report. These workshops would not have been possible without the willing collaboration of the subregional research organizations, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA), Le Counseil Ouest et Centre Africain pour la Recherche et le Developpement (CORAF), the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) in South Africa and importantly staff of the national agricultural research systems in Africa. The following people from these and other organizations are owed a special debt of gratitude for their assistance with the workshops: Nisreen Al Shawahneh, Mohamed Besri, Sam Chema, Abdelnabi Fardous, Gadi Gumisiriza, Sefu Ketema, Ndiaga M'Baye, Bongeka Mdleleni, Bheki Muchunu, Richard Mkandawire, Keoagile Molapong, Joseph Mukiibi, Hamid Narjisse, Njabulo Nduli, Techalew Negash, Bongiwe Njobe, Marcel Nwalozie, Ramagwai Sebola and Dunstan Spencer. Papa Seck and Monty Jones of the Forum for African Agricultural Research (FARA) and Ian Johnson and Francisco Reifschneider of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are thanked for allowing a progress report on the study to be presented to meetings of the two organizations.

    The Study Panel appreciates the contribution of the authors who prepared background papers, which, together with the consultative workshops, provided the essential building blocks for the report. Those involved were: Nienke Beintema, Prem Bindraban, Carl Eicher, Lawrence Haddad, Peter Hazell, Huub Loffler, David Muduuli, Peter Matlon, Sudip Mitra, Rudy Rabbinge, Han Roseboom Elly Sabiiti, Dunstan Spencer and Clesensio Tizikara.

    The Hunger Task Force of the UN Millenium Development Goals program was generous in the provision of data, analyses and maps of the location and extent of malnutrition in Africa. Members of the United Nations and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) both contributed with helpful suggestions and feedback. The Wageningen University and Research Centres in The Netherlands and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provided staff time and information to the Study Panel.

    Others who contributed to the Study Panel's deliberations in various ways are also thanked, including Kwaku Agyemang, Alexander Animalu, Stein Bie, Patrick Dugan, Adel El-Beltagy, Willem Jansen, Arie Kuyvenhoven, William Masters, and Meryl Williams. For assistance with writing and editing, the Study Panel expresses its appreciation to Janet Lawrence, Steven Marcus, Sheldon Lippman, Patricia McAdams and Ellen Bouma. The InterAcademy Council (IAC) secretariat and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam, where IAC is headquartered, provided guidance and support for this study. In this regard, special mention is made of the assistance provided by Albert Koers, John Campbell, and Margreet Haverkamp of the IAC Secretariat.

    The Study Panel is especially grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation for providing funding to support the study.

    Last but by no means least, the Study Panel thanks the InterAcademy Council Board and especially Bruce Alberts and Goverdhan Mehta, the IAC Co-Chairs, for providing it with the opportunity to undertake this important study.

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