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Voices from the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week 2013

Change mindsets, embed policymaking, make efficient use of declining biomass, engage the private sector.

These and other recommendations of four participants attending the ongoing sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) are captured in this short (2:40-minute) video. This science week, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), is being held in Accra, Ghana, all this week (15–20 July 2013).

Giving us a few of their thoughts in this video are:

  • Ndlovu Mkhunjulelwa, of the Department of Agriculture, Technical and Extension Services in Zimbabwe
  • Yusuf Abubakar, of the Agricultural Research Council in Nigeria
  • Trinity Senda, of Matopos Research Institute in Zimbabwe
  • Jonathan Chitambaa, of World Vision in Uganda

Ndlovu Mkhunjulelwa makes a case for feeding people ‘intellectually’ as well as nutritionally. ‘Capacity is key to driving innovation in society, because the main culprits [holding us back] are people’s mindsets. We need to integrate what local people know with what we know. When we do that, we can come up with a sustainable intervention strategy with real impacts on food security.’

Yusef Abubakar says we must ‘dialogue with the policymakers’. ‘To move forward in our research, we need support. And that support can only come if policymakers know exactly what we’re doing. I’m happy that in this meeting there’s going to be a ministerial platform where we’ll have an opportunity to interact with them.’

Trinity Senda believes we can use the scarce resources we have more effectively. ‘We tend to think our help will come from outside. Of particular interest to me [in this meeting] were biomass discussions on the competition between soil fertility and livestock feeding. Biomass reduction is a big issue in Africa’s semi-arid areas. I got some interesting insights about what strategic options need to be looked into regarding the declining biomass and increasing livestock populations.’

Jonathan Chitambaa thinks feed problems in Africa are now an issue that needs the attention of more than just researchers, governments and NGOs. ‘I think we need to engage the private sector more. In forums like this, I think it’s vital to include private-sector players who are, after all, part and parcel of the value chains we’re working in. We need to come up with common objectives for everyone, with all key stakeholders present, so that it’s easier when we go back to the field for us to implement some of the key interventions that we’ve designed together’.

AASW6
FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, includes marketplace exhibitions (15–20 Jul 2013), side events on sub-themes (15–16), a ministerial roundtable alongside a Ghana Day (17 Jul), plenary sessions (18–19) and a FARA Business Meeting (20 Jul). Follow the discussions on Twitter with the hashtag #AASW6 or visit the FARA AASW6 blog.

You can view slide presentations made at a livestock-focused side event on 15 Jul, hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which include a discussion of Africa’s biomass declines, here: Livestock research for food security and poverty reduction.

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