Africa / Agriculture / Books and chapters / East Africa / Kenya / Research / Tanzania / Uganda

‘New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa’ launched by five East African heads of state

The 12th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the East African Community is taking place today, 3 December 2010, at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania.

President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and current chairman of the summit, as well as presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, are attending the summit.

Yesterday, the heads of state held a one-day working ‘Retreat on Food Security and Climate Change’. Directors or Commissioners of Agriculture from each partner state made presentations on the current national situations on food security and climate change and their impacts. The theme for the Retreat was “East Africa Community (EAC): Transforming Agriculture through Innovation”.

Prof Nuhu Hatibu, CEO of Kilimo Trust, gave a regional perspective on food security and Prof Laban A. Ogallo, Director of IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre made a presentation on the climate change impacts in the region.

Prof Calestous Juma, of Harvard Kennedy School, took the Heads of State through agricultural innovation in Africa. The Heads of State then held roundtable discussions on the presentations with a view to guide implementation of the EAC Food Security Action Plan and the EAC Climate Change Policy.

The chairperson of the summit launched publication of a new study, New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, by Prof. Calestous Juma.

This study argues that African nations can break dependence on food imports and produce enough to feed a growing population within a generation despite extra strains from climate change. What is needed, the study says, is research into new crops resistant to heat, droughts or floods, better support for small-scale farmers and greater involvement by national leaders in setting policies in sectors from transport to education.

‘Juma, who is a professor of international development, told Reuters that food self-sufficiency would require big shifts in policies that have led to dependence on food aid handouts and imports in many nations.

‘”Climate change makes it more difficult,” he said in a telephone interview of the study released to coincide with a meeting of several African leaders in Tanzania on Thursday, as well as U.N. talks on slowing climate change in Cancun, Mexico.

‘The U.N. panel of climate scientists says that up to 220 million people in Africa could face extra disruptions to water supplies by 2020. It says the continent faces more heatwaves, floods, mudslides, desertification and droughts. Juma said [his] study called for more involvement by national leaders in solving problems in sectors such as water, energy, transport, communications and education. . . .’

Read the whole article in Reuters: Africa can feed itself within a generation: A study, 2 December 2010.

Read the news release at the East African Community Portal: EAC Summit, Heads of State Retreat on Food Security and Climate Change for 2-3 December, 19 November 2010.

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