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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  • Strengthening System Linkages
    As mentioned earlier, in most countries, research-extension linkages are problematic due (in part) to the collapse or the poor state of agricultural extension. The much-promoted training and visit approach has been disbanded in recent years, but no apparent promising alternative has yet emerged. There are quite a number of success stories on technology diffusion initiatives in African agriculture (e.g., Sasakawa-Global 2000, African Highlands Initiative, Agricultural Technology and Information Response Initiative), but the upscaling of such approaches tends to be difficult and often prohibitively expensive. Hence, there is currently little consensus of how to tackle the problem of technology diffusion; what is clear is that the traditional, government extension services have outlived their usefulness, and in particular the one-size-fits-all approach. Haug (1999) has undertaken a pertinent overview of agricultural extension. A greater diversity in technology delivery systems is being called for, as well as more stakeholder participation, as mentioned earlier. Some possible innovations are described in Box 5.2.
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