Crop Biotech Update

Surviving the Storm – How Agricultural Research Could Help Africa Weather Another Food Crisis

December 17, 2010

Agricultural scientists in Africa have come up with a four-point strategy to help the region cope up with the looming food shortage and food price crisis. The four-point strategy according to the press release include: the promotion of non-tradable commodities, better integration of markets, closing the gap between actual and potential yields, and diversification of rural economies.

International agricultural centers operating in Africa such as Africa Rice, International Rice Research Institute, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center have worked on researches that would close the gap between actual and potential yields. Their collaborations have resulted to the utilization of new technologies such as marker-assisted breeding in the development of stress and pest resistant crops, the development and dissemination of better yielding cassava varieties which are also resistant to the cassava brown streak disease, Xanthomonas wilt resistant bananas and the future deployment of high-yielding drought-tolerant rice and maize.

These research centers have been adopting the three goals of "agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability, and poverty reduction". In addition, they have in recent years included priority activities on innovative extension techniques, the creation of input market and delivery systems, and the strengthening and diversification of output markets. This additional shift in their priorities is pioneering but is heralded as one of the more feasible strategies for hastening agricultural development in Africa.

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