Overheard at Africa Agriculture Science Week, in Accra

Entrance to Africa Agriculture Science Week

Entrance to FARA’s 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15-20 Jul 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The following remarks were noted by members of the delegation of 22 staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) who participated in the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), ‘Africa Feeding Africa’, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and held in Accra, Ghana, 15–20 Jul 2013.

  • Africa is the final frontier for agriculture.
    — Dyborn Chibonga, CEO of the National Smallholders’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM)
  • Our agricultural systems today are under-performing but have huge potential to double or triple yields.
  • Infrastructure and market links can make all the difference for farmers waiting for economic opportunities.
  • Development is not something we do for others; it is something we do for ourselves.
  • We produce enough food to feed every child, woman and man on the planet.
  • 50% of Africa’s agricultural labour force are women; they need resources, inputs and rights to the lands they farm.
  • We should reposition ‘research and development’ as ‘research for development’.
  • Africa can feed Africa, Africa should feed Africa, and Africa one day will feed Africa.
    — Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Research (IFAD)
  • That research is one of four pillars of CAADP is a reflection of its importance to NEPAD.
  • In 2008, African countries set a 10% target for public expenditure on agriculture.
  • Decay of Africa’s research systems over a long period still undermines our research.
  • Africa’s agricultural research expenditures are still below those before structural adjustment.
  • For every million agricultural workers in sub-Saharan Africa, there are less than 70 agricultural researchers.
  • Africa’s research system is overwhelmingly male while its agriculture is vibrant thanks to women.
  • Africa’s women reinvest not only in their businesses but also in their communities.
  • We should give special attention to the entrepreneurial role of Africa’s agricultural women.
  • We should give much more emphasis to African farming as a business.
  • Agricultural transformation must start from within the continent and its men and women.
  • Start with smallholder farmers, who are the majority and have highest potential for change.
  • We should upgrade Africa’s food security strategy to a food sovereignty strategy.
    — Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency
  • Our African institutions remain weak; we have not invested in research for development.
  • We must empower our local experts to inform our agricultural policy.
  • Women produce 80% of our food, but less than 10% of African women can access credit.
  • Women, the guardians of Africa’s food security, are marginalized in African business and have little access to African resources.
    — Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO and head of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
  • Extension agents are not recognized as knowledge seekers.
    — Agnes Mwang’ombe, CGIAR board member and principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, University of Nairobi
  • Africa has little capacity to implement GMO policies.
  • Africa Union regulations on GMOs have been mis-used.
  • It’s difficult to involve scientifically illiterate publics in GM debates.
  • Demand for GMO regulatory services is now outpaced by technological developments.
    — Diran Makinde, director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE)
  • The Africa Science Agenda being developed is forward-looking and links technical with political agendas.
  • This Science Agenda is the first time the process is being led by Africans.
  • It will be presented to Africa ministers in March and declared in July.
  • It will be binding.
    — Monty Jones, outgoing executive director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
  • The Science Agenda for Africa is a grand opportunity to think business unusual.
  • Trainees should be linked to responsibilities requiring them to use the skills they have learned.
  • Radical changes are needed to achieve capacity development and sustain it.
  • Capacity building is the essence of what CAADP stands for.
    — Martin Bwalya, CEO of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)
  • Entrepreneurship is 80% confidence — the belief that we can do something new. (Alex Bombom)
  • The biggest poverty is not material but intellectual — failure to value and leverage our own knowledge.
  • If experts want knowledge to impact farmers, we need farmers to co-create the knowledge.
  • Knowledge only exists at the point of action; before that, it’s just information.
    — Mandi Rukuni, founder and trustee of Barefoot Education Trust for Afrika (BEAT), in Zimbabwe
  • If NEPAD and CAADP programs attract youth to agricultural entrepreneurship, we can go somewhere.
    — Wilson Songa, Agriculture Secretary, Kenya Ministry of Agriculture
  • Lack of capacity development in African organizations is a big constraint to research results.
    — Joseph Methu, head of the Partnership and Capacity Development Programme at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA)

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