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.
The role of the private sector can be enhanced by innovative public-private partnerships. Intellectual property rights remain a significant constraint in these endeavours but can be successfully addressed. One solution is for the private sector to provide patented processes and materials free to African public institutions. Institutional innovations such as the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) can provide strategic opportunities to encourage these partnerships (see Box 4.10 in Chapter 4). To facilitate public-private partnerships beyond this, there is a need to invest in basic communications and transport infrastructure, as well to cultivate a climate of trust that is currently lacking between the two sectors.
The private non-farm sector could play a key role in supporting the provision of extension, especially at the post-harvest end of the spectrum in the market-driven productivity improvement paradigm suggested in this report. This would be facilitated if smallholders become active and dominant stakeholders in post-harvest enterprises through cooperatives and the like. Again there is an action research agenda for ISNAR in synthesizing experiences with such initiatives elsewhere and formulating best practice options for Africa.