The AGRA President has today called for the use of appropriate technologies to enable farmers achieve the triple helix target of feeding the world, growing economies and preserving the world.
Speaking at the year’s Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Dr. Kalibata said that achieving the transformation of farming from a struggle to survive to a thriving business calls for a totally new way of doing business. She emphasized that technology and innovation are critical in creating an agricultural transformation. “Fortunately, such technologies are in plenty across the continent with most of them lying on shelves. What is needed is very deliberate efforts to drive their application,” she said.
She used examples from AGRA’s 10 years of work to illustrate how simple technologies including improved seeds, irrigation and appropriate fertilizer use could double or even treble productivity per unit acreage.
On improved seed varieties, for example, she said that technologies now exist that have made it possible to produce seeds that are adapted to local agro-ecological conditions and that have other desired qualities including pest resistance, high nutritional value and that are fast cooking. She also cited the rise of biofortification – the production of seed varieties that are fortified with essential nutrients like the yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes that is fortified with vitamin A and the iron-fortified beans – as another welcome development that is helping address food and nutrition insecurity.
She said that AGRA has supported the establishment of just over 100 seed companies that have produced over 100MT of high quality seeds per year enough for about 15 million farmers in the last 10 years.
Other technologies that she advocated for include urea deep placement, micro-dosing and fertilizer blending all of which meet the crop and soil specific nutrients requirements without overloading the soil with nutrients. Such technologies, she said, include that are all contributing to increased productivity.
She also highlighted irrigation, mechanization and improved access to financial services as some of the other strategies that are enabling farmers increase their productivity.
In closing, Dr. Kalibata said that once yields have increased, farmers need access to structured markets for their produce. She stated that organizing farmers into groups has proven successful as it enables them to negotiate fairer prices with contract buyers leading to higher incomes. She gave the example of AGRA’s work on this. The organization has, in the last 10 years, supported the aggregation of close to 600,000 MT of commodity valued at US$ 177M.
She underlined the importance of such approaches especially in the light of increasing climate related uncertainties and shocks.
She was part of a panel entitled: Feeding the World, Preserving the World. Other panelists included Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI); Dr. Sanushka Naidoo, NEF Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria; Pierre Thiam, Celebrated Chef and Co-founder of Yolele Foods: and Dr. Simon Ehui, Director, Food and Agriculture Global Practice, The World Bank.