Posted by: africanpressorganization | 17 March 2010

International panel engages EAC on agricultural innovation / Panel explores prospects of using Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as agents of agricultural modernisation




International panel engages EAC on agricultural innovation / Panel explores prospects of using Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as agents of agricultural modernisation



ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 17, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Advisory Panel on Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project led by Professor Calestous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School, USA, paid a working visit to the EAC Secretariat 15 March 2010 and held discussions with the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Juma Mwapachu and other senior officials from the EAC Secretariat.


The visiting team, comprising 10 experts in agriculture and related fields from different countries around the globe, engaged the EAC officials on the upcoming study entitled The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa.  Agricultural Innovation in Africa is a project supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA.


The project seeks to disseminate policy-relevant information on how to align science and technology missions with regional agricultural development goals.  It does so in the context of the larger agenda to promote regional economic integration and development. 


The upcoming study positions agriculture at the centre of efforts to spur economic development in Africa. It outlines the policies and institutional changes needed to promote agricultural innovation.


The study looks at agriculture and economic growth; technological advancement; enabling infrastructure; agricultural innovation systems; human capacity; business development; and regional innovation systems.


The draft report of the study, which the Panel shared with the EAC officials, asserts that African countries are increasingly focusing on promoting regional economic integration as a way to stimulate economic growth and expand local markets and that considerable progress had been made in expanding regional trade through regional blocs such as COMESA and the EAC.


The draft report affirms that so far regional cooperation in agriculture is in its infancy and major challenges still lie ahead and recommends that Africa should intensify efforts to use regional bodies as agents of agricultural innovation through measures.


As such, the Panel’s visit explored the prospects of using Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as agents of agricultural innovation through measures like regional specialisation. The visit also explored ways to strengthen the role of the RECs in promoting common regulatory standards.


The other members on the Panel are: N’Dri Assie-Lumumba (Professor of African and Diaspora Education at the African Studies and Research Center of Cornell University); Hiroyuki Kubota (Executive Advisor to the Director General for Rural Development Department- Japan International Cooperation Agency); Zhanglian Chen (Vice Governor of Guangxi Province, China); Daniel Kammen (Professor in the Energy and Resources Group); Margaret Kilo (Head of Fragile States Unit, African Development Bank); Magdy Madkour (Professor and Head of Biotechnology, Arid Lands Agricultural Research Institute, Ain Shams University, Egypt); Francis Mangeni (Director of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs, COMESA); Venkatesh Narayanamurti (Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy, Harvard); Robert Paarlberg (Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College); Maria Jose Sampaio (Senior Intellectual Property Manager at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation); Greet Smeets (Biosafety and Regulatory Specialist, Perseus, Belgium); and Botlhale Tema (Managing Director, Creative Connections, Cape Town, South Africa).



East African Community (EAC)


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