Project Background and Rationale
African agriculture is at the crossroads. Persistent food shortages are now being compounded by new threats arising from climate change. But Africa faces two major opportunities that can help transform its agriculture and use it as a force for economic growth. First, advances in science and technology worldwide offer African countries new tools needed to promote sustainable agriculture. Second, efforts to create regional markets will provide new incentives for agricultural production and trade. This is the focus of the "Agricultural Innovation in Africa" (AIA) project. The project seeks to disseminate policy-relevant information on how to align science and technology missions with regional agricultural development goals. It does so in the context of the larger agenda to promote regional economic integration and development.
The AIA project builds on the findings of the expert report "Freedom to Innovate: Biotechnology in Africa’s Development" prepared by the High Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology of the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The panel’s main recommendations include the need for individual countries in central, eastern, western, northern and southern Africa to work together at the regional level to scale up the development of biotechnology. The upcoming study, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, is a continuation of that effort. It positions the agriculture at the center of efforts to spur economic development in Africa. It outlines the policies and institutional changes needed to promote agricultural innovation.