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African Green Revolution

P6291489How can Africa's farmers, scientists, development practitioners, private entrepreneurs and public officials spark a "uniquely" Green Revolution in Africa, one that responds to the region's unique social, political and ecological conditions

The aim of this moderated e-Discussion was to focus the discussions on action-oriented approaches to address the “how” part of the African Green Revolution discussions.

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS), in partnership with the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), undertook a series of events on the theme of an “African Green Revolution”. The main purpose of these initiatives was to assess the most critical issues and to review, refine and articulate an agenda for a new sustainable “Green Revolution” for Sub-Saharan Africa. The Salzburg report represented a summary of the week-long deliberations, highlights key points of agreement and divergence, and set out a number of recommendations for follow-up and future action.

In light of the considerable interest generated by the conference and seminar, SGS, FAC, and IDS created a space for people to contribute to and extend this important discussion.

FAC held a moderated discussion on substantive action-oriented issues over a seven-week period during the months of October and November, 2008. The debate focussed on three central themes raised by the conference/seminar delegates and outlined in the report.

Discussion Themes

The three broad discussion themes were considered. Participants were asked to address this question under the following three themes and to highlight the best actions that can be taken to address these issues:

  1. Making Farmers' Voices Heard:
  2. Inclusion is seen as crucial to the new agenda for African agriculture. Governments, donors, farmer organisations and NGOs, must consider the particular issues surrounding small-scale farmer and issues of equity. An equitable Green Revolution requires an increased ability to facilitate inclusive approaches in which farmers, especially the small-holder, women and the poor, can access training develop new knowledge and skills in organisational leadership, business management, innovation processes, policy engagement and advocacy, and performance monitoring and learning. Contributions on this theme should revolve around concrete actions – indicating who the key actors are - to address the following questions: Which of the recommendations set forth best achieve the goal of amplifying farmers’ voices in policy debates and decision-making processes? How can we ensure that measurable targets are set for gender and equity? How can we build capacity of grassroots organisations for basic skills (e.g., organisations and business skills) and leadership (to influence policy and negotiations)? How do we strengthen horizontal and vertical linkages and partnerships/networks with other organisations? And how can we increase access to resources and services for small-scale farmers and marginalized groups?
  3. Making Science and Technology Work for Small-scale Farmers:
  4. 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 what specific actions 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?
  5. Partnerships and Coherence:
  6. There has been much debate about the importance of coordination and alignment of initiatives and institutions. It is recognized that there are many actors involved in the “Green Revolution” and that the challenge lays in linking up various agendas to make sure we are moving in the right direction and not working at cross purposes. Contributions on this theme should focus on concrete actions to address the following questions: Which of the recommendations and proposed actions will enable coherence and encourage strategic partnerships and alignment? What are the best methods to coordinate actions among the key process and initiatives, such as CAADP, AGRA, and other public and private efforts? How can we ensure that the policy processes enhance the compact and roundtable processes of these initiatives and ensure that policy stability, transparency and coherence are created at national and international levels? What are the best methods to ensure bottom-up (i.e. locally driven) initiatives are incorporated into these alliances?