Hope for a hunger-free Africa

10 May, 2011 by (comments)

By CIAT Africa

There is hope for a hunger-free Africa – this was the optimistic message from Dr. Namanga Ngongi, of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), during his keynote address at the opening of the CIAT annual program review in Nairobi, yesterday.

According to Dr Ngoni, with Africa’s main development challenge is producing enough food to feed itself; around 240 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are not eating well enough for their health and well being.

However, he told more than 80 delegates at the three-day event that he is confident that agricultural research could continue to play a crucial role in tackling the problem. “If more ambitious efforts are put into African agricultural research and development, then the continent’s potential to feed its people and millions of hungry people in the world can be met,” he said.

Also during the opening session, Dr. Wilson Songa, the Agriculture Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, complemented CIAT on its efforts to improve agriculture in Kenya through the center’s work on soils and beans. He listed the successes in the country, including: soil fertility and introduction of soy beans in Western Kenya; introduction and release of climbing beans and micronutrient bean varieties; and production of so-called “small seed packs” that help farmers access new varieties.

Dr Ngongi and Dr Songa, who conducted some post-graduate study research at CIAT in the 1990s, acknowledged the efforts conducted by the CGIAR centers working in research-for-development in Africa to improve the farming practices and livelihoods of small holders.

Speaking to journalists at the event, Namanga explained that having a self-sufficient Africa is a vital step towards achieving socio-economic growth, referring to China and India as examples of where addressing the food security issues has enabled countries to become major production areas.

In addition to this, during the opening addresses, the Deputy Director of Research and Technology at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Dr. Joseph Mureithi, highlighted the importance of conducting timely research, especially on climate change. He encouraged the CGIAR centers, to share the information on varying weather patterns and how smallholder farmers can adopt relevant technologies to adapt to the new weather patterns.

Presentations on the progress towards improving Africa’s agriculture through CIAT programs were given in the course of the day, and will be uploaded to CIAT’s SlideShare page soon.

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Filed Under: Africa @en, Inside CIAT, Regions