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.
Governments should take the lead to identify areas that overlap public- and private-good research and facilitate negotiation of flexible agreements to manage joint design, conduct and financing of research. Mechanisms for equitable benefit sharing need developing in a manner that encourages African entrepreneurs to engage in enterprises that result in new rural non-farm income-generating opportunities.
It should be recognized, however, that there will always be a public-good agenda (genetic resource conservation and management, agricultural and S&T policy research, etc.) for which the private sector will have no incentive to become involved. Hence public-private partnerships may not be a panacea to offset declining public funding of all agricultural research and development. There is also a need for transparent and attractive incentive and reward systems for scientists, to encourage them to pursue such partnerships.