News / Africa

Using Innovation to Boost Farming

Conference on Agricultural Research for Development focuses on innovation. Credit: GCARD II
Conference on Agricultural Research for Development focuses on innovation. Credit: GCARD II
Joe DeCapua
Innovation will be the theme at the upcoming Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development. It gets under way later this month in Uruguay.

The conference, known as GCARD II, will consider the challenges that farmers may face in 20 to 30 years, and try to come up with solutions now.


Professor Monty Jones, winner of the 2004 World Food Prize, will chair the conference. He says it will differ from the first GCARD meeting in Montpellier, France in 2010.

“This time it’s not just scientists talking to themselves; it’s scientists talking to the other players that matter very much, particularly this farmers, the farmer’s group, the NGO group, all these other players. Their voices are now being heard in agricultural research for development,” he said.

Jones is head of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. He said GCARD has published a road map to “transform agricultural research” so it can have a major impact on development. It’s called “foresight thinking.”

“The tendency for most of us is to look at problems that occur today, and then try to solve those problems. This particular program on foresight thinking is trying to make [a] projection into the future, particularly in a world of climate change and associated problems, like drought and floods, and aggravated problems of disease and insect pests,” he said.

The GCARD Roadmap recommends a “collective focus on priorities” that has been determined by society and science; an effective partnership between researchers and farmers; increased investment; and greater awareness of innovation’s effect on development.

Jones is an innovator himself. He was awarded the World Food Prize for discovery of a genetic process that led to a protein-rich, high yield rice. It’s called NERICA, which stands for New Rice for Africa.

“Innovation is all about creating change. And I think that the process of creating change is very apparent in various regions of the world, including Africa. Yes, my NERICA rice is doing wonders in a number of countries. You probably have heard that rice production in Africa went up by 18 percent in the last few years. And 18 percent in the last few years is a tremendous achievement, and it was probably due to the NERICA rice,” he said.

Jones said other innovations include methods to save the cassava plant, elimination of the animal disease rinderpest and the Green Revolution in Asia. Jones believes such a green revolution eventually will come to Africa.

The Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development says past success in research and technology “has enabled a growing population to avoid mass starvation.” However, it adds that nearly one billion people go hungry every day, and nearly one and a half billion live in extreme poverty. GCARD describes its roadmap as “a plan for urgent collective action.”

Professor Jones said that despite the African continent having large deserts, he believes it will become food self-sufficient and a breadbasket for the world.

“That is my dream. And it probably might begin to happen in my lifetime. I hope it does happen in my lifetime because if you look at it, Africa has got the potential. Sixty percent of the world’s arable land, uncultivated arable land, actually exists in Africa. This is why you hear about land grabbing and things like that,” he said.

GCARD II will be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay from October 29th through November 1st.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs