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

Multimedia

Audio
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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid