@TheEastAfrican

Seeding Africa’s prosperity will make the continent bloom

6 Dec 2017 19:42

By: Joe De Vries

Africa, now home to a population of more than 1.2 billion people, which is expected to double by 2050, faces a mounting challenge of feeding its people, growing its economy, creating decent jobs and improving the quality of life for its citizens. Transforming agriculture, the sector that employs the majority of Africans and holds the greatest promise for economic prosperity, will be critical in this pursuit. Yet despite the expenditure of billions of dollars on agricultural development, most of Africa’s farmers continue to harvest one tonne of grain per hectare, consigning them to an impoverished, subsistence existence. Experience from the frontlines of agricultural development in Africa reveals that a major factor in this dilemma is the lack of access to quality seeds. The breeding and supply of seed of higher-yielding crop varieties has been the starting point of virtually every Green Revolution experienced around the globe. Yet the critical challenge of seed scarcity among Africa’s farmers became evident in the early part of this century almost by accident. At that time, maize farmers in parts of East Africa were battling a serious infestation by a parasite called Striga that was hitting their yields hard. This prompted research on different maize varieties resistant to the parasite. In the process of doing so, however, the researchers discovered that even farmers who had no Striga on their farms were still getting very low yields. There must be a broader problem than Striga, they concluded. A broader set of analyses led to the conclusion that a lack of plant breeders and funding to support the creation of new varieties was at the heart of the challenge. Yet every African country had agricultural research stations where the work could be done, and no shortage of eager young agriculturalists ready to learn the science of plant breeding. Equally important, every country possessed its share of seed entrepreneurs and vendors eager to create businesses from the supply of new seeds. In 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation came together to establish the Programme for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS) within the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to address the challenges associated with supplying Africa’s farmers with higher-yielding, locally adapted seed. A decade later, crop breeders working in public institutes around the continent have developed over 600 new crop varieties. Over 500 plant breeders have been trained at MSc and PhD levels through the programme. Africa’s emerging “agri-preneurs” have likewise stepped forward in large numbers to work with breeders to fill the seed supply gap, bulking up seed of the new varieties on production plots in 18 countries and selling the seed through local shops known as agro-dealers. The new seed is in high demand. Approximately 110 recently formed seed companies are now producing over 130 tonnes of certified seeds every year, sufficient for about 15 million farmers around Africa. Just as it did elsewhere in the world, the invisible hand of improved seed is broadly lifting farmer productivity in Africa. ...
Read More


Category: topnews news oped opinion

Suggested

5 hours ago, 22:34
@TheStar - By: Imende Benjamin @ ...
Uhuru postpones dowry ceremony

President Uhuru Kenyatta has postponed paying the dowry of his great-grandmother named Musana from Narok after three centuries.The president wanted to pay the bride price to correct the wrongs his gre ...

Category: topnews news
5 hours ago, 22:34
@TheStar - By: Imende [email pro ...
Police on the lookout for daytime drunken drivers

Police have introduced daytime alcoblow tests to curb road carnage during the festive season.Inspector of General Joseph Boinnet on Friday said the alcoblow will remain in place even after the festive ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:05
@DailyNation - By: Ouma Wanzala
KCSE results out soon as marking ends, analysis begins

Examiner says the results are likely to be issued before December 20. ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:02
@CITIZENTV - By: Sam Gituku
Kagame to Burundi: Leave us out of your problems

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has distanced his Government from accusations that it had a role to play in the absence of Burundi at an EAC summit ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:23
@TheStar - By: Kiplang'at Kirui ...
Maasai elders deny opposing new currency coins

Maasai Council of elders have denied claims being circulated in the social media that they have opposed new currency coins launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday.National organising secretary ...

Category: topnews news
7 hours ago, 20:22
@TheStar - By: Maurice Alal @ala ...
Four fishermen drown after boat capsizes in Lake Victoria

Four fishermen drowned on Thursday after their boat capsized in Lake Victoria at Seme, Kisumu county. They are Dennis Abala, Kennedy Oketch, Wilson Ndolo, and Chrispinus Bolo from West Kadinga sub-loc ...

Category: topnews news

@TheEastAfrican

Seeding Africa’s prosperity will make the continent bloom

6 Dec 2017 19:42

By: Joe De Vries
Africa, now home to a population of more than 1.2 billion people, which is expected to double by 2050, faces a mounting challenge of feeding its people, growing its economy, creating decent jobs and improving the quality of life for its citizens. Transforming agriculture, the sector that employs the majority of Africans and holds the greatest promise for economic prosperity, will be critical in this pursuit. Yet despite the expenditure of billions of dollars on agricultural development, most of Africa’s farmers continue to harvest one tonne of grain per hectare, consigning them to an impoverished, subsistence existence. Experience from the frontlines of agricultural development in Africa reveals that a major factor in this dilemma is the lack of access to quality seeds. The breeding and supply of seed of higher-yielding crop varieties has been the starting point of virtually every Green Revolution experienced around the globe. Yet the critical challenge of seed scarcity among Africa’s farmers became evident in the early part of this century almost by accident. At that time, maize farmers in parts of East Africa were battling a serious infestation by a parasite called Striga that was hitting their yields hard. This prompted research on different maize varieties resistant to the parasite. In the process of doing so, however, the researchers discovered that even farmers who had no Striga on their farms were still getting very low yields. There must be a broader problem than Striga, they concluded. A broader set of analyses led to the conclusion that a lack of plant breeders and funding to support the creation of new varieties was at the heart of the challenge. Yet every African country had agricultural research stations where the work could be done, and no shortage of eager young agriculturalists ready to learn the science of plant breeding. Equally important, every country possessed its share of seed entrepreneurs and vendors eager to create businesses from the supply of new seeds. In 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation came together to establish the Programme for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS) within the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to address the challenges associated with supplying Africa’s farmers with higher-yielding, locally adapted seed. A decade later, crop breeders working in public institutes around the continent have developed over 600 new crop varieties. Over 500 plant breeders have been trained at MSc and PhD levels through the programme. Africa’s emerging “agri-preneurs” have likewise stepped forward in large numbers to work with breeders to fill the seed supply gap, bulking up seed of the new varieties on production plots in 18 countries and selling the seed through local shops known as agro-dealers. The new seed is in high demand. Approximately 110 recently formed seed companies are now producing over 130 tonnes of certified seeds every year, sufficient for about 15 million farmers around Africa. Just as it did elsewhere in the world, the invisible hand of improved seed is broadly lifting farmer productivity in Africa. ...
Read More

Category: topnews news oped opinion

Suggested

5 hours ago, 22:34
@TheStar - By: Imende Benjamin @ ...
Uhuru postpones dowry ceremony

President Uhuru Kenyatta has postponed paying the dowry of his great-grandmother named Musana from Narok after three centuries.The president wanted to pay the bride price to correct the wrongs his gre ...

Category: topnews news
5 hours ago, 22:34
@TheStar - By: Imende [email pro ...
Police on the lookout for daytime drunken drivers

Police have introduced daytime alcoblow tests to curb road carnage during the festive season.Inspector of General Joseph Boinnet on Friday said the alcoblow will remain in place even after the festive ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:05
@DailyNation - By: Ouma Wanzala
KCSE results out soon as marking ends, analysis begins

Examiner says the results are likely to be issued before December 20. ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:02
@CITIZENTV - By: Sam Gituku
Kagame to Burundi: Leave us out of your problems

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has distanced his Government from accusations that it had a role to play in the absence of Burundi at an EAC summit ...

Category: topnews news
6 hours ago, 21:23
@TheStar - By: Kiplang'at Kirui ...
Maasai elders deny opposing new currency coins

Maasai Council of elders have denied claims being circulated in the social media that they have opposed new currency coins launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday.National organising secretary ...

Category: topnews news
7 hours ago, 20:22
@TheStar - By: Maurice Alal @ala ...
Four fishermen drown after boat capsizes in Lake Victoria

Four fishermen drowned on Thursday after their boat capsized in Lake Victoria at Seme, Kisumu county. They are Dennis Abala, Kennedy Oketch, Wilson Ndolo, and Chrispinus Bolo from West Kadinga sub-loc ...

Category: topnews news
Our App