Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Africa's biggest assembly of farm experts meet in Ouagadougou

(photo credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Over 700 prominent agriculture researchers, policy makers, and development experts from around the world along with the President of Burkina Faso and ministers of Agriculture, Science and Foreign Affairs from several African and European countries are gathering 19-24 July in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso for the 5th African Agriculture Science week and General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

FARA Week ( comes amid widespread recognition that investments in agriculture research must increase significantly and the fruits of this work must reach the fields more quickly to provide African farmers with the innovations they need to feed the continent’s rapidly growing population. The gathering also occurs at the same time African leaders will be in Kampala, Uganda at a summit of the African Union, which is focused on maternal, infant, and child health and development.

“The links between these two incredibly important meetings could not be clearer because nothing is more vital to maternal and child health than the food that is produced on Africa’s farms and the income agriculture provides to lift our people out of poverty,” said World Food Prize Winner and executive secretary of FARA, Monty Jones.

Among those participating in the African Agricultural Science Week and General Assembly are:
  • H.E. Blaise Compaore, President of Burkina Faso
  • Ministers of Agriculture, Science, Technology, International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra-Leone, Uganda, and Togo, who will hold a press-moderated ministerial roundtable.
  • Monty Jones, Executive Secretary, FARA
  • Denis Kyetere, Director General, National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda, Chairman of the Executive Board, FARA
  • Namanga Ngongi, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
  • Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
Key issues to be discussed at the FARA meeting include:
  • Increasing and sustaining public and private sector investments in African agriculture in the wake of the global financial crisis;
  • Delivering innovations and building capacity at the local level that will enable farmers to adapt to the challenges posed by globalization and climate change;
  • Assessing the resilience of African agriculture trade to domestic and external shocks that include: protectionism and subsidies, the short and long-term trade-offs between biofuel production and food security, and access to agriculture commodity markets; and
  • Embracing importance of biodiversity to African environmental and agriculture health in addition to social and economic development.
There also will be a week-long exhibition featuring dynamic array of agriculture innovations from inside and outside of Africa that provide new insights into such challenges as pests and plant diseases, bioenergy production in Africa, maintaining Africa’s agriculture biodiversity, climate change, and regional integration.

In addition, there will be a range of discussions organized by FARA constituents on a number of compelling topics, including efforts in Africa to develop the capacity and expertise required to conduct regulatory assessments of agriculture biotechnology, and the role of the public and private sector in driving innovations on African farms.

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