Jan 13, 2009, 6:44 AM
PROFESSOR Juma says that African agriculture is at the crossroad. Persistent food shortages are compounded by unwelcome climate changes. Yet development in science and technology and engineering worldwide offer
This is worthy book with an official feel. It reads like being present at an expert workshop seeking positive reactions.
The book endorsed by four presidents: Good luck Jonathan of Nigeria, Ellen Johnson Sir leaf of Sierra Leone, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica (two of them women, you’ll note). It’s a product of the Agricultural Innovation in Africa (AIA) project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The author is a Kenyan, professor of the practice of International Development and Director of the science, Technology and Globalization project at
Juma’s first chapter reminds us that despite fast-growing urbanization
The matter is urgent: in 1990. Over 150 million Africans were hungry, and by 2010 the number had risen to 239 million. The proportion of undernourished people is rising. Sub-Saharan African agriculture is 90 percent rain-fed and highly vulnerable to weather shocks. Only four percent of Africa’s crop area is irrigated, compared with 39 percent in southern
Much of rural
Lowest in the world in use of fertilizers
Fertilizer use in
The writer is inspired by
Putting a premium on learning
Industrialized countries have the ability to learn how to improve performance in varied fields, including institutional development, new technology, trade and best use of natural resource. The key to success as it should be also in
Within North Africa, which has experienced the highest of Africa’s agricultural growth,
The positive effect of mobile use
Turning to mobile technology, Juma reminds us that Sub-Saharan Africa has ten times as many mobile telephones as landlines.
Mobiles can replace hour s of travel with two-minute telephone calls. Family and kinship relations have always played an important role in African society, and mobiles strengthen this ‘social infrastructure’ by allowing faster communication about natural disasters, epidemics and social or political upsets. Mobiles create demand for additional employment; in
Farmers used to lack access to information about weather and market prices; but now, mobiles and new services provide such information, helping farmers to boost their productivity.
In the internet domain, access to broadband is challenging
Juma emphasizes that new technologies should enable farmers to be flexible according to their capacities, situations and needs. Farmer should begin with small intitial investment, and experiment. If they achieve success early on with a small investment they are likely to devote more resources later.
Biotechnology can lead to increased food security and sustainable forestry as well as improving health by improving food nutrition. Unfortunately, such potential, says juma, has largely remained untapped by African countries.
Tissue culture has helped produce new rice verities and helped
Juma gives examples of forward looking development in
Building ‘human capacity’
Perhaps Juma’s chapter 5 keys to his whole approach. What he’s calling for at all levels in agricultural development is a leap forward in human capacity’. He points out: ‘One of the most distressing facts about many African school systems is that they often focus little on teaching students to maximize that are available to them in their own communities; rather, they tend to prioritize a set of skills that is less applicable to village life and encourages children to aspire to join the waves of young people moving to urban areas it also leads to nations passing over a chance to increase agricultural productivity, self –sufficiency and human resources among their people.’
About 36 percent of all African labour potential is used in subsistence agriculture. If that percentage of the population could have access to improving agricultural techniques they could transform agriculture into an income earning endeavour.
Juma’s prescription: schools should include agriculture as a formal subject, from early childhood to university.
The majority of farmers in Africa are women, who provide 70 to 80 percent of food crops and make up 48 percent of the labour force, yet Unesco estimates that only 45 percent of women in
Moving through the need for fostering entrepreneur, the need for regional partnerships, and much else, Juma’s massage van be summed up as innovate, co-operate, learn, vitalize the people, harness all your natural and human resources..
The vital task for him and all the many others engaged in this field is to enthuse leaders and governments administrators and educationalists; and then and this is the huge challenge wake up people at village level to the exciting possibilities. It’s not unlike the church’s endeavour in the missionary field: the message is there, but how can it be proclaimed so as to yield fruit?
This book is full of acronyms (what are AMU, ICRISA, NCDC and WABNET, for example? It’s fortunate a key is provided).
Along with the acronyms is the usual enervating style of this kind of text:
Success stories in which synergies were created by combining market based and knowledge based interaction strategy that has to be holistic in nature and focus, in particular, in strengthening the inter-reactions between key public, private and civil society actors.
It doesn’t make for easy or gripping reading, does it? And what, may one ask, is a ‘new innovation’?
Who can popularize the message?
Available at Timbooktoo, tel 4494345.