Posted by: africanpressorganization | 29 August 2008

African agriculture / IFAD’s President calls for increased investment in agricultural research and market access for smallholders at African Green Revolution Conference


 

African
agriculture / IFAD’s President calls for increased investment in agricultural research and market access for smallholders at African Green Revolution Conference

 

ROME, Italy, August 29, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IFAD’s President calls for increased investment in agricultural research and market access

“Smallholder farmers in Africa need to be empowered to become rural entrepreneurs who can build productive and profitable partnerships with the private sector,” said Lennart Båge, IFAD’s president, at the start of the second day of the African Green Revolution Conference.

“Too often agriculture is seen as an unproductive and unprofitable sector,” said Båge.  “But the truth is that agriculture and those tilling the land –men and women smallholder farmers – have the capacity to feed the world while managing and protecting some of the key assets of our global environment.”

“Smallholder farmers do not need hand-outs or short-term fixes. They need effective, innovative and sustained investment,” Båge said.

In 2003, the United Nations called for agricultural development to be placed at the forefront of the fight against extreme hunger and poverty. Half a decade later, the world is still debating how best to bring agricultural development to Africa. “The world urgently needs a green revolution in Africa.  And the African continent has the potential to deliver,” Båge said.  “But we are still failing, collectively, to give Africa the level of co-ordinated and cohesive support that it needs to do so.”

The AGR Conference is bringing together world leaders, representatives of the private sector and development practitioners in a two-day debate to find sustainable ways of boosting agricultural productivity in Africa. In light of today’s food security crisis and current estimates that the global demand for food will increase by one-half in the next 20 years, greater investment in agricultural productivity is crucial for poverty reduction and future economic stability.

Agriculture has been shown time and again to have a powerful impact on poverty reduction.  Growth in agriculture has driven wider economic growth throughout history – from 18th century England, to 19th century Japan, to 20th century India. And growth in agriculture really delivers: according to the 2008 World Development Report, GDP growth generated by agriculture is up to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.

Almost two billion people depend on the world’s 450 million smallholder farms for food and livelihoods; if supported by the appropriate mix of policy and investment measures, these farmers can lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their country’s economic growth.

Agricultural research is essential in order for a sustainable and inclusive African Green Revolution to take place. To be effective in reducing poverty, this research must focus on varieties that meet the needs of poor rural farmers and respond to the challenges they face from pests, droughts and salinity. Investment in agricultural research, which so successfully drove the Green Revolution in Asia, has been shown to deliver rates of return in excess of 40 per cent.  IFAD is one of the major financial supporters of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system and is now helping to review the system and reorient it to the new research agenda of today.

Note for editors

This year’s African Green Revolution Conference, with the theme ‘An Alliance for Action’,  hosts a diverse group of about 200 participants including farmers and development practitioners, heads of state or government, senior government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society, and leaders from the private sector. It will provide a venue for considering public-private partnerships aimed at increasing Africa’s agricultural productivit

 

SOURCE : International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)


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