The event is the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and the General Assembly of the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA).
The four-day conference and exhibition which has the theme: “Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods, would focus on the operationalisation of the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa at country level.
The conference are; to facilitate partnership and networking among actors engaged in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for African agriculture, discuss African positions and build consensus on key issues concerning STI for African agriculture. The rest are, discuss contemporary evolutions in STI for agriculture and map out a broad agenda for repositioning STI for African agriculture over the next three years and beyond.
Addressing Journalists in Accra recently ahead of the meeting, the Executive Director of FARA, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo called on African Governments to increase support for research in Agriculture to enhance agriculture production on the continent.
He said support for research in agriculture has become critical to ensure the integration of science, technology and innovation in the continent’s agro practices to achieve the sector’s goals, namely zero hunger, creation of wealth and jobs, increasing the resilience of agri-food systems and improvement in the management of the natural resource base.
Dr Akinbamijo told journalists that, “research is critical in agricultural activities because it will inform how science, technology and innovation can be employed to improve agriculture on the continent”. “Agricultural production in Africa is low because majority of our farmers depend on the old traditional systems instead of mechanized farming and use of irrigation systems. Africa needs to embrace new form of technology to advance the sector” he emphasized.
He noted that, Africa is the lowest on the list of continents that have integrated science and technology in agriculture and it is incumbent on African governments to support efforts to develop holistic agricultural policies that encompasses science and technology.
Dr Akinbamijo said it is for this reason that the conference will focus on five sub-themes namely institutional systems and policies for making science work for African agriculture, sustainable productivity growth, value chains and profitable agri-businesses, sustainable financing of Science, Technology and Innovation for African agriculture, megatrends in African Agriculture and human capital development and the Youth”.
He said FARA had established the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa to articulate the science, technology, extension, innovations, policy and social learning that Africa needs to apply to meet its agricultural and overall development goals.
The Policy Specialist/Advisor at FARA, Dr. Emmanuel Tambi, stated that it is extremely difficult to convince the youth of Africa to venture into agriculture due to lack of access to credit facilities.
He therefore called on African governments to introduce policies that would facilitate access to credit to attract the youth into agriculture. “when you try to convince them, they ask you where do I get the money for the seed, fertilizer and even land for farming” Dr. Tambi stated.
According to him, “the unpredictable outcomes of investments in agriculture due to the seasonal nature of most crops and non-availability of ready market for some agriculture products act as a disincentive to prospective youth farmers”.
Dr. Tambi revealed that through FARA’s subsidiary, African Agriculture Incubation Network (AAIN), the skills of some identified youth are being developed and the enabling environment would be provided to encourage them to take to agriculture as a profession.