The 5th Annual African Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa is underway in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, attracting over 700 prominent agriculture researchers, policy makers, and development experts from around the world .
Dr. Monty Jones, FARA’s Executive Director, opened the meeting by noting the series of crises that have jolted the world since the last FARA meeting in Johannesburg: the fuel crisis, the food price crisis, the economic and financial crisis, and the realization that climate change is upon us and its impacts more evident across the continent.
Fostering resilience in an interconnected world
Even the volcanic ash from Iceland has made its presence felt in Africa, Jones said, disrupting the horticulture industry in Kenya and Ethiopia. What all of these impact show us, said Dr. Jones, is that in Africa, “We are bound to be affected by events that we are remotely responsible for.”
But in the face of so many and various challenges, Dr. Jones said African countries have responded with resilience, and he welcomed indications that the continent is “climbing back.”
“Africa has demonstrated resilience during this crisis,” said Jones.
“Emerging evidence shows that half of African countries are on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015,” he said.
If there is a blessing to be found in all the turbulence of the past few years, Dr. Jones said, it is that crisis spurs innovation,. “This explains the rationale behind the theme of this African Science Week and FARA General Assembly, that is African Agricultural Innovation in a Changing Global Environment.”
Dr. Jones said the next two days will feature an Open Space, a welcome opportunity for intensive discussions dedicated to the week’s theme. They will include discussions of securing strong investments in agriculture innovation in the post-financial crisis era, building knowledge networks to cope with the challenges of globalization and climate change, and the resilience of African agricultural trade to domestic and external shocks. He said the main recommendations from this forum a will be fed into the FARA General Assembly for endorsement and consideration as part of the African Agriculture for Development agenda.
Dr. Jones said that he looked forward to a series of exchanges that will focus on a “common vision of seeing Africa realize the full potential of its agriculture to achieve a food secure and improve the livelihood of all its people.”