Crop Biotech Update

Kyetere: Improved Seeds and Technology Needed for Smallholder Farmers

June 22, 2012

Improved seeds and other farm technologies are best bet for enhanced agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where smallholder farmers make up 70 percent of people that depend solely on agriculture for livelihood and suffer most challenging farming problems. This was the remark of Dr. Denis T Kyetere, Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), at the 2012 'Bio International Convention: the Global Event for Biotechnology' in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Dr. Kyetere added that smallholder farms also have the lowest farm production costs and any investment will be visible and have impact. The use of improved technologies will result in higher and better yields, labor savings and will also allow for possible crop diversification and address production constraints such as insect and weed pests, drought, disease and soil degradation, as well as protect the environment. However, while agricultural biotechnology advances rapidly in the developed world, developing countries are struggling to keep pace for various reasons including human and institutional capacity challenges, lack of familiarity with the biotech product development process, and difficulties in navigating cumbersome regulatory processes.

"We are calling on the private sector to partner with the public sector to contribute to the development and delivery of biotechnology tools to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to help overcome some of these challenges. The private sector can contribute their technologies, knowhow and even funding. Other key areas include capacity strengthening in areas such as stewardship, product development and deployment, and participating in policy development debates where they can share their experience with governments," Dr Kyetere added.

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