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About the Author

Ochieng Ogodo
Journalist (Nairobi, Kenya)

Ochieng' Ogodo is the Sub-Saharan Africa News Editor for Science and Development Network (www.scidev.net). He is a Kenyan science journalist writing for local and international media. He is the English-speaking Africa and the Middle East region winner for the 2008 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. Ochieng' also chairs the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association (KENSJA) As a journalist, his works have been published in various parts of the world including the Africa, UK and the USA. He ventured into journalism in 1996 at The East African Standard, one of the two leading media houses in Kenya. At The Standard he worked at the News Desk which entailed rigorous reporting including news breaking based on assignments and personal initiatives. From September 1999 to October 2003 he was moved to the Investigative Desk as one of the few writers to the then widely read investigative pullout, The Big Issue. He comprehensively and extensively wrote on human interest issues, personality profiles, entertainment, transport and maritime, not to forget commentaries and analysis on major topical issues as well as undertaking Special Projects. From October 1, 2003 to November 1, 2006 he was a staff writer with the defunct Biosafety News- then a Nairobi based Science, Biotechnology, Health, Environment and Agriculture Magazine. He was a Senior Staff Writer at Doctor News East Africa [Kenya] from September 2007 to June 2008. Among others, he has made contributions to popular media outlets in the world like The Guardian [UK] and National Geographic (US). He has been to various international scientific forums. April 16-21, 2007, he attended the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne and presented on Climate Change Reporting: The Developing Word Perspective. He attended Land Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) open science congress in Egmond aan Nzee, Netherlands June 25-July 1, 2005 and presented on Media and Environmental Protection. He covered the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Curitiba, Brazil March 14-25, 2006 and United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi, November 06-17, 2006. From December 7-18, 2009 he covered COP 15 in Copenhagen. Ochieng' has consulted for, among others, Elsevier BV based in Netherlands, EDCTP and the World Agroforestry Center..

Post

Agriculture: Need for paradigm shift in Africa

Published 19th July 2010 - 1 comments - 2659 views -

By Ochieng’ Ogodo

 

[Nairobi] Application of knowledge and appropriate technology is critical for increased agricultural productivity for the rural poor in the developing world, especially Africa, Emanuel Tambi, Economist, Senior Policy Officer, Rural Economy Division at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa has said.

This should be the new paradigm shift in agricultural growth in the developing world, especially in Africa, where majority of the rural poor depend on it as source livelihood and somewhat economic empowerment.

 “In order to successfully meet challenges of globalization, developing countries, in general, and Africa, in particular, must place science and technology at the heart of their development policy,” he said.

He, however, recognized that, as continent with countries having primarily agriculture economies, Africa is confronted with limited human and material resources in scientific and technological fields, and therefore has problem incorporating science and technology into its development policies.

It is for this that his department is currently working with Regional Economic Communities,  members states, research institutes such as International Livestock Research Institute and IFPRI, civil society organisations as well as development partners  to move forward the agenda for research and technology.

Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, IFPRI’s director for International Service for National Agricultural Research Division said in many parts of the developing world, mostly Africa, agriculture plays an important role in national development in terms of employment and national wealth creation.

The pervasive poverty in many parts of these countries cannot be tackled sufficiently without paying attention to production and market development for agricultural products.

To cope with the demand factors and emerging global issues, actors in the food and agriculture value chain need to innovate to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“The good news is that  there has been steady progress in African agriculture over the last few years with growth  rates increasing from 2 percent per annum in the 1990s to about 5 percent in the 2000s,” he told the forum.

But to sustain this, Okyere stated, there is need for extraction of economic, ecosystem and social value from knowledge which involves putting ideas, knowledge and technology to work in a manner that brings about a significant improvement in performance.

A lot of knowledge, he explained, already exist and can be used to improve the livelihoods of the smallholder farmer in the rural settings where more than 50 percent depend on agriculture. 

But there are no proper linkages for knowledge mobility from institutions of learning, research and different actors to get innovation to work to advance food and agriculture and this call for new approaches to capacity building.

The first stage of capacity building development, he pointed out, should be at the universities or institutions of higher learning to make them innovate and become efficient.

“It has been demonstrated that students retain 90 percent of concept or method if they teach others, 75 percent if they practice by doing, 50 percent if they are involved in a discussion but only five percent through lectures,” he said.

 Scientists and students should talk to farmers and see how best they could infuse their [farmers] indigenous knowledge with those in formal educational systems and pass it on for accelerated agricultural production in the developing world.

The next level of capacity building is that of farmers to make them adopt new knowledge and technologies as well as improve on the existing ethnic agricultural knowledge to step up agricultural growth for food and poverty reduction.

Okyere also said for knowledge to be generated and used effectively for innovation in agricultural development there must be innovators in organizations, institutions, technologies and policies that are involved in the process.

Joachim Von Braun, Director of IFPRI challenged Africa and the rest of the developing world to develop their basic science, build practical technical education programmes on agriculture at higher institutions of learning and tap into existing indigenous knowledge to improve agricultural production for food security and wealth creation for the rural poor.

“Agriculture is a major source of employment in the developing world and also a vital source of food for majority of rural populations,” said Braun

Yet agricultural education and research is not being felt on the ground because of lack direct connection between scientists, students and the smallholder farmer who needs knowledge to adopt innovative methods of farming for increased yields.

Most agriculture students, he explained, do have practical experience and thus the big gap between knowledge and innovation and reality on the ground in the end. Africa, he told meting should make agriculture part of its higher education technical programme as one of the means in innovatively addressing food insecurity and poverty reduction in rural settings.

It should be part of the learning process right from secondary education level and Africa should also build up its basic science and not keep knocking on the doors of the western institutions for solutions.

“Africa and the developing world must build their own biological, physical and chemistry sciences and use that knowledge at all levels of food and agricultural systems,” said Braun.

 

**Ochieng’ Ogodo is a Nairobi journalist and the Sub-Saharan Africa News Editor for Scidev.net .He is the  English-speaking Africa and Middle East region winner for the 2008 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 


Category: Agriculture | Tags:


Comments

  • Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 23rd July 2010:

    Hmm… I wonder what he means with “Africa, in particular, must place science and technology at the heart of their development policy”. What Africa really should not do is to industrialize the agriculture, and make it dependent on pesticides and oil.

    See my blog post for my opinion about this.


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