The African Union (AU) Commission and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see them work together to raise agricultural productivity in Africa through technology access, development, delivery and uptake. The collaboration will facilitate the deployment of proven technologies to help address the constraints faced by smallholder African farmers.
‘We recognise and appreciate the contribution that AATF is making towards Africa’s agricultural development. The signing of the MoU today is a testimony to a mutual aspiration to work together to sustain the economic backbone of the continent and its peoples especially those who depend on agriculture and associated appropriate technologies for their livelihoods,’ said Mrs Rhoda Tumusiime Peace, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AU Commission during the signing of the agreement at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Commissioner underscored the importance of partnerships saying progress gained to date requires stronger commitment and support on the part of the Commission, the Regional Economic Commissions and other Pan African institutions involved in agricultural development.
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,’ said Dr Kyetere, the AAT Executive Director.
Africa has one of the lowest levels of farm productivity in the world as a result of the absence of appropriate agricultural technologies to deal with the stresses, pests and diseases that face the region’s smallholder farmers. Agricultural science and technology is recognised as offering potential to improve food security and reduce poverty in Africa.
“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,’ said Dr Kyetere. ‘Success depends on all relevant organisations like the AU and AATF working together through partnerships,’ he added.
Saying that smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa offer great potential towards enhancing food security and improved livelihoods, Dr Kyetere said there was need for radical interventions to stem the tide of these effects on food security and income and support the growth and meaningful participation of small farmers in the economic development agenda of the continent.
Currently working in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, AATF facilitates access and delivery of affordable agricultural technologies for use by smallholder farmers in Africa. Priority areas for the Foundation include addressing targeted agricultural constraints facing these farmers which include the impact of climate change in agriculture; pest management; soil management, nutrient enhancement in foods; improved breeding methods; and mechanisation. These are addressed through the access, development and deployment of accessible, transferable, adaptable and proven technologies.
Current projects being coordinated by AATF include: 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 SSA.
Dr Kyetere renewed AATF’s commitment to honour the provisions of the MoU for the benefit of the continent saying that ‘with this MoU we can work together with the Commission on various initiatives to eradicate poverty and assure food security, health and nutrition for majority of people in Africa’.
Reaffirming the commitment of the AU, Mrs Tumusiime expressed the need for the two organisations to explore options of mutual benefits and make them work for the good of Africa.