Dr Denis T. Kyetere, the Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has said that technology can boost Africa’s agricultural productivity and translate to poverty reduction. Speaking at the Africa Business Round Table during the Spring meetings of the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund held in Washington DC, USA in April 2013, Dr Kyetere said that injecting appropriate agricultural technologies and addressing some of the key challenges facing smallholder farmers will see Africa grow and perhaps turn into a key exporter of agricultural produce.
“Technological interventions to increase yields and productivity provide opportunity and future growth area for Africa’s agriculture” Dr Kyetere added.
“Regional, sub-regional organisations, and government strategies recognise that science and technology can contribute to agricultural growth. He said this recognition provides a strong position to start from.
Dr Kyetere said that Africa has great potential to accomplish more through its agriculture. He highlighted the uncultivated arable land, describing it as a gold mine and as a key resource.
“With more than 70 percent of Africa’s resource constrained people depending on agriculture for their livelihoods the importance of agriculture to Africa’s economic development cannot be over emphasised,” he added.
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, growth in agriculture is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the gross domestic product growth generated by agriculture is more effective in reducing poverty than that in other sectors.
With technological interventions, Dr Kyetere said that the current yield gaps such as in cereals that still stands at around 1.2 tonnes per hectare, compared to an average yield of 3 tonnes per hectare in the developed world could be addressed.
“Given the low levels of production and the available technologies worldwide, the arena is open for Africa to choose and select the best options to fit its purposes,” he said.
“Some of the technologies include those that will generate new varieties of plants and livestock; varieties adapted to climate change; varieties with better or efficient utilisation of water and other minerals such as nitrogen; labour saving technologies, fertiliser utilisation and value adding technologies among others” he added.
In his address Dr Kyetere presented Africa as an investment opportunity that has great potential for further growth given the support, and participation of the larger global community and appealed to the members of the international community gathered for the round table to actively partner with likeminded organisations to build Africa’s strengths to further develop its agriculture and with it, economies.
However, he cautioned that to successfully exploit the potential that technology offers to Africa, partnerships between public and private sectors must be put in place and nurtured, to take advantage of the potential that each one offers agricultural development.
Dr Kyetere also took the opportunity to outline the role that AATF plays in technology access and delivery to support Africa become food secure. Pointing out that AATF was marking 10 years of operation this year he said that the Foundation had grown into an effective mechanism for negotiating access and delivery of agricultural technologies from both public and private institutions all over the world – whether proprietary or otherwise – on behalf of Africa’s scientists and farmers.
For more information on AATF visit http://www.aatf-africa.org