“How can Africa grow more food?”

The Guardian reports on, yes, more reports about food security in Africa, “How Can Africa Grow More Food?

I was struck by an observation about agricultural technology that nails one of the crucial challenges faced by the new, improved CGIAR:

One old hand in the field told me the other day that, on average, it takes 46 years for agricultural innovations to get from the laboratory to widespread use in the field in Africa; it’s not lack of technology that is the problem but effective means to disseminate practical solutions. Technology might be able to achieve quick fixes in health on the continent, but they might be elusive in agriculture because it entails much more complex issues of land rights and power.

The Guardian coverage was prompted by the publication of a new book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, a product of the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project.

Reader comments at guardian.co.uk are passionate and well worth reading.  One blogger, pngahgita, ends a lengthy comment with an observation:

Now, he who controls the seed industry is master over life and death in the long run!

That reminded me why CAS made such an investment in trying to get the DoJ to broaden the scope of their enquiry into concentration in the seed industry to include developing countries.  Read the paper “Potential Impact of U.S.-Based Seed Company Competition on Access to Seed in the Developing Country Context”.

Post written by Peter Bloch

One response to ““How can Africa grow more food?”

  1. African farmers are no different than others – give them a good technology and they will adopt it. Paternalistic attitudes from policy makers hinder the ability of the private sector to market improved technologies – especially seeds – holding back development.

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