Experts zero in on technology brokerage for food resilience in Africa
Agricultural technology brokerage has been identified as a credible pathway to achieving food systems resilience in Africa.
This, amongst other positions, came out strongly at a side event on technology brokerage for a resilient food system in Africa at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
Organised by Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), the side event featured speakers, panellists and participants from a broad spectrum of the continent’s agricultural sector, including multilateral development banks, agricultural research institutions, governments, private sector, civil society and the media.
Dr Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agroindustry at the African Development Bank, in his opening remarks, interrogated ongoing efforts at transforming Africa’s food systems, noting the worsening fragility of African food systems made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dr Fregene, “Africa can become a powerhouse for food systems in Africa through technology brokerage as it comes with scaling technologies to achieve food security, deliver better nutrition, reduce poverty while addressing environmental challenges of the 21st century across Africa.”
Dr Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General (Partnership for Delivery) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), averred that the impact of TAAT’s deployment of scientific innovations and partnerships on food systems is evident in how African farmers are building climate and food resilience across agro-ecological zones through technology brokerage.
“It is hoped that this side event will provide more opportunities to get everyone involved in the task of deepening technology delivery, linking various research innovations to deliver impact in countries through a complementary convergence of science and technology, favourable policies, strong support institutions” Dr Dashiell added.
In three separate presentations as panellists, Dr Innocent Musabyimana, head of TAAT Clearinghouse; Ms Ify Umunna, Co-CEO of Nourishing Africa; and Dr Jonga Munyaradzi, TAAT Maize Compact Leader at African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), agreed on the need to improve access to opportunities for strengthening partnerships and linkages with the government, the private sector, and other agricultural development programmes to form the nucleus of the heralded transformation of Africa’s food systems.
According to Dr Musabyimana, TAAT’s technology brokerage process involves profiling and bundling proven technologies, adjusting and validating the technology toolkit, integrating same with country programmes and projecting impact and transformation.
“ So far, 144 technologies have been validated and bundled into agricultural solutions that are enhancing production, resilience and mitigation across 88 interventions in 28 countries,” Dr Musabyimana said.
From a private sector perspective, Ms Ify Umunna identified the critical role of African youth in driving profitable and sustainable growth of food systems, and she called for more investments aimed at attracting, equipping and connecting young agri-food entrepreneurs along value chains.
Dr Jonga, in his presentation, zeroed in on technical and stewardship support on good agricultural practices to farmers, focusing on women entrepreneurs for market systems and value addition and strong partnerships as critical indices of technology brokerage which the TAAT maize compact has pioneered across Africa.
Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.
The programme increases agricultural productivity by deploying proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along nine commodity value chains: maize, rice, high iron beans, wheat, cassava, orange-fleshed Sweetpotato, sorghum, and sorghum millet, livestock and aquaculture. These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response.
The AGRF is a premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward. Attended by African Heads of State, Ministers, farmer organisations, private agribusinesses, financial institutions, researchers, development partners, NGOs and civil societies, the forum is designed to energise political will and advance the policies, programs and investments required to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent.