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African Development Bank Head Adesina: Tech and Innovation Key to Zero Hunger in Africa

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Africa has the necessary partnerships and technologies to eradicate hunger, said African Development Bank ( President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina.

What is needed is action including robust financing, Adesina said Monday during the opening session of the 8th Africa Agribusiness and Science Week (AASW) in Durban, South Africa.

“We must pull together the best of science, technology, and innovations to drive a more productive, efficient, and more competitive agricultural system,” Adesina told an audience of stakeholders in agriculture and agribusiness research and innovation in Africa.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) organized the event with the government of South Africa, The African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Other partners include the UN’s IFAD and UNIDO as well as the European Commission.

AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko said the event could not have come at a better time, as the world is in the midst of a hunger pandemic caused by cascading factors, including Covid-19 and climate change.

Africa needs to leverage its potential, including science, and be proactive rather than reactive to shocks, she said. She urged the continent to take advantage of its youthful population and immense natural capital. “Let us unlock the potential we have… We should feed Africans and we should feed the world,” Sacko said.

FARA Chairperson Alioune Fall spoke about the interlocking relationship between climate change and agricultural production. “Climate change and its effect on the continent require new ways of doing things in almost all facets of our society,” Fall said, “Africa’s young farmers would not adopt nature-based approaches unless “they are well packaged, affordable and technology-serviced.”

Adesina said African food systems have the potential to unleash $1 trillion in value over the next seven years. “For that to be achieved, we must strengthen and support the CGIAR with a lot more resources, ensure that it works in and delivers for Africa based on our priorities, and support regional research and development institutions, such as FARA and the sub-regional agricultural research organizations,” he said.

African Development Bank initiatives to boost African food security include the Feed Africa Summit, held in January in the Senegalese capital Dakar. It brought together 34 heads of state and government . “Working with development partners from around the world and the African Union Commission, the private sector companies, and global and national agricultural research centers, we developed Food and Agricultural Delivery Compacts for 41 countries,” Adesina said. He added that summit partners have built on its success, mobilizing $72 billion so far, to support the national compacts.

Adesina presented the 2023 FARA Leadership Prizes for Advancing Agricultural Science, Technology, and Innovation in Africa to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization; Ambassador Sacko; FARA’s Executive Director Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo; Senegal’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure Papa Abdoulaye Seck, and Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah.

Adesina won the award in 2016.

The 8th Africa Agribusiness and Science Week, the main continental platform for stakeholders of agriculture and agribusiness research and innovation in Africa, brings together 1,500 stakeholders every three years to take stock of progress on research and innovation, share information, create business alliances, and map out priorities for joint action. The seventh AASW was held in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2016.

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