By CONRAD ONYANGO
Smallholder farmers in Africa will now have access to Agricultural technologies to help them address productivity constraints that have rocked the continent.
This follows the signing of a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the African Union (AU) Commission and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday.
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AU Commission, Rhoda Tumusiime Peace, said the collaboration aims at facilitating deployment of proven agricultural technologies to address constraints faced by farmers in the continent. Development, delivery and uptake of the technologies will also be addressed through the partnership.
‘ The signing of the MoU is a testimony to a mutual aspiration to work together to sustain the economic backbone of the continent and its people especially those who depend on agriculture and associated appropriate technologies for their livelihoods,’ said Peace.
Impact of climate change in agriculture, pest management, soil management, nutrient enhancement in foods, improved breeding methods and mechanisation are the major constraints facing African farmers.
While welcoming AATF to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP) programme of NEPAD, the Commissioner said that the platform has made great progress towards realising Africa’s goal of a food-secure and poverty-free Africa with 30 member states being aligned to the programme.
‘We will therefore require the technological leverage that the AATF has to offer the continent,’ she said.
‘AATF’s mission to access and deliver agricultural technologies for use by smallholder farmers is in full accord with the African Union Sirte Declaration on the challenges of implementing integrated and sustainable development on agriculture and water in Africa,’ added Dr Denis Tumwesigye Kyetere, the AAT Executive Director.
The Commissioner called for a stronger commitment and support on the part of the Commission, the Regional Economic Commissions and other Pan African institutions involved in agricultural development, to sustain the partnership.
Globaly, Africa experiences the lowest levels of farm productivity due to lack of appropriate agricultural technologies to deal with the stresses, pests and diseases that face the region’s smallholder farmers.
Reiterating the commissioner’s sentiments, Dr Kyetere, said success of the agreement will depend on collaboration of all relevant organisations and African states including AU and AATF as the continent seeks to improve its food security status.
“Since agricultural stresses and diseases are not contained by national boundaries, cooperation between nations will build critical mass and accelerate the production of science-based controls and remedies,’ added Dr Kyetere.
AATF is Currently coordinating projects in Striga control in maize, development of insect-resistant cowpea, Improvement of banana for resistance to banana bacterial wilt, biological control of aflatoxin, development of drought tolerance in maize, and development of nitrogen-use efficient, water-use efficient and salt tolerant rice varieties for use by smallholder farmers in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA).