Agriculture technology the way to go - CS

Linturi says technology will help reduce post-harvest losses and increase yields

In Summary
  • Linturi says the world is grappling with serious effects of climate change.
  • Africa’s ability to feed itself is at great risk
African Agricultural Technology Foundation executive director Dr Canisius Kanangire during the conference at Safari Park, Nairobi
African Agricultural Technology Foundation executive director Dr Canisius Kanangire during the conference at Safari Park, Nairobi

For the world to feed the growing population, we must be ready to invest in technology, Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi has said.

He said there is need to adopt technologies to increase yields, reduce post-harvest losses and develop drought resistant crops that deal with the effects of climate change.

“We must accept the reality of life that the world is grappling with serious effects of climate change. In order to deal with these challenges and the growing population, we must be ready to adapt to investing in technologies,” Linturi said.

The CS spoke on Tuesday during the official opening of the African Conference on Agricultural Technology. 

The conference organised by African Agricultural Technology Foundation brings together a dynamic community of agricultural researchers, policymakers, industry leaders and innovators.

Mithika said the technology space is the way to go in all spheres of life.

“We must see how to reduce post-harvest losses, increase yields and use science to develop drought resistant crops to help farmers deal with the effects of climate change,” the CS said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recently reported that 256 million Africans go hungry every day, of which 93 per cent are in Sub-saharan Africa.

The UN noted that considering continued urbanisation and climate change, Africa’s ability to feed itself is at great risk, unless significant transformations occur across its economy and agricultural sector.

This is because the continent’s population is expected to reach two billion by 2050.

Apart from insufficient food supply, Africa also faces unprecedented nutrition challenges, environmental degradation and frequent climatic shocks. 

The disruptions in the global supply chains and the restrictions of movements at local and regional levels due to COVID-19, the Russia/Ukraine war, and the associated economic downturn have worsened food and nutrition security in several countries.

The conference held under the theme, Agricultural Resilience Through Innovation, is seeking to focus on the centrality of science, technology, and innovation in fostering agricultural transformation on the continent.

The participants will be exchanging ideas, sharing best practices and exploring innovative solutions that can enhance agricultural productivity in Africa.

Latest review by the African Union Commission on countries' attainment of food and agriculture targets said by 2019, only four out of 49 countries are on track to achieving their goals.

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Deputy director general Dr Kenton Dashiell said Africa’s food systems must transform in order to achieve food security and address the environmental challenges.

He said the picture is not all doom and gloom as there are numerous successes that demonstrate effective movement towards agricultural and food system transformation in Africa.

“These successes result from complementary convergence of science and technology, favourable policies, strong support institutions and services, and access to finance and markets," Dashiel said.

He said when scaled upward, these achievements promise to form the nucleus of the heralded transformation of Africa’s food systems .

Dashiell said scaling is possible by investments in proven processes and materials.

In Africa, scaling for food and agricultural transformation is hampered by underinvestment in the sector.

This stems from a lack of conviction by policymakers about the returns accruing from investment in food and agriculture versus other sectors.

“The fact that Africa can afford to pay $50 billion (Sh7.5 trillion) in importing food that it could otherwise grow for itself shows that the resources to invest in scaling food and agriculture exist," Dashiell said.

"What is needed is a concerted commitment at the highest level to make the necessary investments and complement them with technical backstopping and policy regimes that support sustainable scaling."

Dr Dashiell identified one program that seeks to advance agriculture through this paradigm is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation Program (TAAT). TAAT is pioneering new approaches to deploying proven technologies to African farmers as part of the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy.

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