Friday, July 23, 2010

Asking for too much but giving too little

Reflections by journalist Busani Bafana

Norman Borlaug, the 'Father of the Green Revolution" died with a broken heart that a Green Revolution had not reached Africa.

But, Borlaug’s work to improve agriculture around the world would not be a lost cause in Africa if farmers here had enough inputs to produce more and better food for all, something FARA has been challenged to take seriously.

"I give Monty Jones another 50 years and during that time I hope that a Green Revolution can take place,” Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda told participants at the 5th African Agriculture Science Week in Burkina Faso.

Dr. Kalibata said despite Africa having a strong cadre of key policy makers and scientists, farmers were still using poor quality seed and grappling with a shortage of inputs and limited information with which to help them produce more food. Yet in Asia, Borlaug’s Green Revolution was embraced with enthusiasm by farmers, scientists and policy makers simultaneously, something that has not yet occurred in Africa.

"What is on the ground is not funny because we are mistreating our farmers, we are asking them for too much and we are not giving them anything in return," Dr. Kalibata said.

Sub-Saharan Africa experiences up to 60 percent post-harvest crop losses, she said, which dent the farmers' capacity to earn extra income. Kalibata said this happens despite the continuous training of scientists who should be leading the adoption of better technologies and the use of improved seed.

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