The problem has been, for decades, that the world's top scientists have not concentrated on the most important problems of small-scale farmers. If someone is dying of thirst, and you give him fried chicken, you are not going to save him, even if he does also happen to be malnourished. You have to respond to people's most important needs--their limiting factors.
African Green Revolution - Theme 2
The role of appropriate science and technology that meets the need of the small-scale farmers was identified as a crucial component for an equitable and sustainable Green Revolution for Africa. Making science and technology work for the poor calls for a multiplicity of approaches to establish links to diversity and complexity, across a range of different environments and systems throughout the continent. This requires an urgent push for major investments and key inputs now – such as improved seeds, organic and inorganic fertilisers, and soil and water management – to address nutrient deficiencies and boost productivity.
Contributions to this theme should revolve around concrete actions to address the following questions:
- Which of the recommendations and specific actions from the Conference Report should be pursued to ensure that appropriate technologies are developed to assist small-scale farmers and establish inclusive processes that engage farmers throughout?
- What policy measures and incentives are needed to influence the governance of both public and private sector R&D systems to make them more responsive to the needs and priorities of small-scale farmers?
To make science and technology work for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa I think it is imperative that account be taken of within-field soil variability. This is especially true in semi-arid areas, but also in other parts of Africa.
The farmers themselves take variability into account: they often manage different parts of a field in a different manner. They do this because it is more efficient, and because it reduces production risks. Technology developments and technology transfers that do not connect with this site-specific management by farmers, and with the underlying reasons, risk being ignored or turned down. Farmer, extension and scientific knowledge about short-distance soil and crop growth variability must be combined for
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