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									Food for Africa
A strategic plan for harnessing the best science and technology for increasing agricultural productivity in Africa

InterAcademy Council
Project prospectus – final draft 8 May 2002

Final draft 8 May 2002

Concern for sufficient food has strongly influenced human actions in the past and will remain a concern for the near future. While we have been able to defeat a Malthusean crisis at a global scale, the threat of insufficient food has not been eradicated in many African nations. Globally, the availability of food per person has increased by 30% over the past four decades, while it has gone down in Africa by 7%. Variation in progress is however very large and deserves location specific attention. Ensuring sufficient food availability is one of the many factors in realizing food security for all, at all times for an active and healthy life. After the Second World War, much emphasis was placed on increasing worldwide food production. Over the past decades, emphasis has shifted to the ability of people to access food, i.e. to generate sufficient income to purchase food. In addition, more attention is now placed on the nutritional dimension of food insecurity. While the agricultural sector has the principal aim of producing food, it also serves other purposes necessary for achieving food security and for alleviating poverty. Improvements in agriculture directly improve the lives of many rural poor. Indirectly, these improvements also improve access to food by the urban and landless poor through reducing food prices. In Africa, 90% of the population lives in rural areas and 70% of the labor force is working in the agricultural sector, ranging from 13.9% in Algeria to 92.9% in Burundi. Agriculture creates an important source of income for the rural population, but also for the non-agrarian population through the entire production chain. The economic importance of agriculture should be better appreciated. It has served as a stepping stone for overall economic development in developed nations, and empirical evidence in newly developing economies in Asia confirms this view. From this perspective, food production and the role of agricultural development in improving food security in African countries deserve renewed attention. Over the past decade, the awareness of this crucial role of agriculture has greatly increased at the political level both within and outside Africa. The conditions needed to facilitate a national development emphasizing agriculture must be put in place now. Science and technology have played a pivotal role in the green revolutions that occurred in the industrialized world, Asia, and Latin America. At places in Africa similar developments and successes have been realized, but the impact of technology has not been fully exploited. A wider awareness of the importance of agriculture for development is a necessary precondition for harnessing science and technology to enhance food production.

The InterAcademy Council will organize and implement an advisory project to produce a global strategy for improving food security on the African continent. The study is being performed in response to a written request from Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, who has asked that we “prepare within a year a Technological Strategic Plan for harnessing the best science and technology to produce a substantial increase in agricultural productivity in Africa.” While the report will primarily present a Technological Strategic Plan for shaping Africa's agricultural future, it will also address the setting for activating the use of science and technology. Both the role of the public and private sector will be emphasized. The objective of the study is, therefore, to identify the appropriate science and technology to foster food production in Africa, while also specifying the conditions necessary to facilitate this desired result. The following overall topics will be addressed: The role of agriculture in food security: What functions other than food production can the agricultural sector contribute to reducing food insecurity? Does the agricultural production potential offer opportunities to look for an economic productivity increase? What are the current and future threats to the natural resource base, such as land and water? What are the future projections for food demand? What are the technical options for reversing the currently expected negative trends in productivity? Which attempts to improve agricultural productivity in the past have failed and why? What have we learned from the combination of successes and failures? What are opportunities along the entire chain of production and distribution? Both the production phase from farm input to farm gate, and the post-harvest phase from farm gate to consumer, will therefore be considered.


Final draft 8 May 2002

The policy agenda: Which institutional, technological and research capabilities are required to effectively support agricultural development? What conditions should be created by the public sector for enhancing local private investment in the agricultural sector? What are the possibilities for private investment from developed nations in lesser developed nations in this area? Research capacity: What research infrastructure will facilitate Africa’s needs better than the current systems? What ought to be the research priorities for supporting the development of the African agricultural sector? How can the current extremely low research capacity in many African countries be increased? A concept outline of the report content is provided in Appendix 2. It distinguishes a global context from the specific focus on the African situation. Special emphasis will be placed on case studies to illustrate tangible problems and options for solutions.

The complacency concerning the role of agriculture in addressing food insecurity and rural poverty has resulted in a tendency to neglect fundamental research related to agriculture. While science and technology have played a significant role in boosting food production, current debates, such as those on biotechnology, tend to downplay the use of technology in addressing food insecurity. These conditions may be detrimental in the search for innovative solutions to meet the daunting challenges ahead on the African continent. Hence, a particular objective of this study is to identify the facilitating role of science and technology in improving food security. Despite the dwindling attention, much research and many debates have taken place in the past decades to address these issues concerning agriculture and food security. This study will primarily draw upon readily available information. However, in selected areas, available information may therefore be too scattered or incongruent to provide sufficient information for a comprehensive view. Thus, additional research may be needed on particular issues. Timely connections to the political and institutional arena are also essential to enhance the impact of the study. This project foresees three phases towards an end report. The first phase should culminate in the presentation at the World Food Summit + 5 in Rome, June 2002. The Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) will mark the end of the second phase. The final report will be discussed during a Summit of African Political Leaders and Science Academies in Africa. Step I – Towards the World Food Summit + 5 (Rome, June 10-13, 2002) A paper will be prepared for the World Food Summit presenting the plans for the IAC study and soliciting input from the attendees. Step II – Towards the World Summit on Sustainable Development Rio+10 (Johannesburg, 26 Aug. – 4 Sept. 2002) A report will be prepared on Science and Technology for Sustainable Food Security in Africa. The emphasis will be on technologies for achieving higher productivity in perpetuity (i.e., an ever-green revolution) and on the conservation and enhancement of the ecological foundations essential for sustainable advances in crop and animal productivity (i.e., land, water, biodiversity, forests, the atmosphere). The potential impact of climate change, the role of technology in bridging the gender divide, and the role of the public sector in setting conducive conditions for private investments will also be addressed. Step III - Towards a Summit of African Political Leaders and Science Academies (to be convened by the Secretary General) Proposed report title: Agenda 2015: The Science and Technological Conditions for Achieving Productivity and Quality Revolutions in African Agriculture The year 2015 has been chosen by UN institutions for achieving a substantial reduction in poverty and the number of malnourished individuals. African agriculture urgently needs both productivity and quality revolutions, requiring a link of food security to food safety issues. Food safety requirements are important both for the home and external markets. This will call for a


Final draft 8 May 2002 considerable strengthening of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the adoption of codex alimentarius standards. The final report will deal with both the proven technologies on the shelf and frontier technologies like bio-, information, communication, and space technologies. In the case of biotechnology, biosafety— including food and environmental safety — will receive particular attention. The role of eco-technologies, developed through blending traditional and frontier technologies will be highlighted in achieving the concurrent goals of ecological soundness, economic efficiency and gender and social equity. In addition, the productivity of all the major inputs will be emphasized, including water, since there is a need to reduce the cost of production and enhance marketable surplus under conditions of small holdings. The role of women farmers in technology development will be dealt with in detail, since women play a key role in African food security. The role of the private sector, including micro-enterprises and Foreign Direct Investments, will be extensively examined. For shaping Africa's agricultural future, the substrate conditions essential for technology to make an impact will also be of central concern.

The Wageningen Agricultural University, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation will provide the necessary staff support and otherwise aid in appropriate studies and analysis. FAO, the Rockefeller Foundation and the CGIAR will be fully involved in all phases of the study. Above all, there will be widespread consultation with African Science Academies and Farmers' Organizations (including Farm Women Organizations). Such a user orientation and involvement is vital for preparing a realistic strategic plan, one that can be owned by African political leaders, scientists and farm families. The report will place particular stress on strengthening existing partnerships and on developing new ones. If Agenda 2015 for the technological transformation of African Agriculture by the year 2015 is to succeed, trilateral partnerships involving public and private sector research, training institutions, and farm women and men will be essential. Therefore in all sections of the report, methods for bridging the growing gap between academic know-how and field level performance will be highlighted.

A preliminary budget overview is given in Appendix 4. Total project costs are estimated at US $800,000.

Suggested studies for the report on “Food for Africa”
In Appendix 5, studies, reviews and workshops that should be conducted to generate the outputs for the three phases have been elaborated.


Final draft 8 May 2002

Appendix 1: Overview of activities
May First meeting core group and liaisons Core group finalizes prospectus and work plan Review of draft statement World Food Summit Assignment of special studies and workshops Approval prospectus by IAC Board Consultation IAP academies on additional members June Statement on IAC study at World Food Summit Second meeting core group and liaisons at WFF Action to involve national academies Appointment additional members study panel July – August Core group/study panel finalizes input in WSSD Statement on IAC study at WSSD First results of specialized studies come in

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

1. 2. 3. 4.

1. 2. 3.

September 1. Compilation of information from studies 2. Preparation of workshops October – November 1. Regional consultation workshops 2. Workshop proceedings finalised 3. Final results of specialised studies come in November – December 2002 Drafting of final report Meeting study panel to finalize draft

1 2

February 2003 1. Final report submitted to the IAC


Final draft 8 May 2002

Appendix 2: outline of report sections
Chapter I: Context, diagnosis and problem analysis. 1. World food production; trends, possibilities, limitations, role of irrigation 2. Supply and demand for food, functioning of markets 3. Role of science and its impact 4. Public awareness of food security and food safety 5. Crops, crop production, potentials, yield gaps 6. The protein revolution and the consequences for food production. Chapter 2: Africa 1. Food security and food safety in Africa, developments and problems 2. Green revolutions: 1910 Europe and USA, 1950 Industrialised world, 1970 China, India and other Asian countries 3. Diagnosis of the problems of Africa − Absence of infrastructure − Failing market policies − Insufficient cohesion in interventions − Lack of good governance Chapter 3: Case studies of hits and misses in Africa 1. Cassava: possibilities, unused potentials 2. Rice: rain fed rice, hybrids, some successes - many failures 3. Cattle and livestock: problems with animal diseases 4. Soil: decreasing fertility, lack of external inputs etc. 5. Vegetables: frustration in view of absence WTO rules In all cases water as the major limiting factor for crop production will be addressed, while biotechnology as one of the new instruments will also be taken in consideration. Chapter 4: Policy agenda 1. Public investment in agriculture and infrastructure 2. Agricultural investment by private sector 3. Better use of knowledge, innovation and expertise Chapter 5: Research agenda 1. Capacity building, universities and vocational education 2. Renewal of CGIAR and its role in Africa 3. Involvement academies of science, IAC and IAP


Final draft 8 May 2002

Appendix 3: Studies, reviews and workshops
The following special studies, reviews and workshops are under consideration.

Study 1: Successes and failures (review and workshops)

Study 2: Facilitating agricultural development (review and input to workshops)

Study 3: Exploiting advanced technologies in life science

Study 4: Exploiting information and communication technology

Study 5: Soil fertility and production potential

Study 6: Specific crops and animals

Cross cutting issues that should be integrated in the core studies: • • Facilitating conditions Water (and climate change)


Final draft 8 May 2002

Appendix 4: Tentative budget study project Food for Africa

Study Directors (2 @ 40% @ 16 months) Program assistants (2 @ 50% @ 16 months) External studies (10 @ 20.000) Travel/per diem panel members Travel/per diem staff Logistical costs meetings Support review process Publication and dissemination Total

140,000 90,000 200,000 180,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 100,000 800,000

Still to be done: Specify budget for various items.


Final draft 8 May 2002 Appendix

5: References

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