Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union, summarized the key science agenda during the Research to Feed Africa conference September 1, 2014.
“The agricultural transformation agenda, that we (the African Union members) have thus all committed to, calls for harnessing the best technologies, building the required infrastructure, developing effective institutions and crafting appropriate policies with a view to realizing the full potential for the continent’s agrifood systems to contribute to broad-based economic growth and job creation and, in so doing, to shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for a growing and thriving African population, especially, its majority who are youth and women.
To deliver on this vision, our leaders also adopted the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) that should cut across the entire value chains of the agrifood systems and help, over the next 10 years:
- Double agricultural productivity,
- Halve post-harvest losses,
- Develop strategic agrifood commodities value chains, including the agro-processing and agribusiness stages of these value chains,
- Triple intra-African trade in agricultural products and services,
- Make at least 30% of farm, pastoral and fisher households resilient to climate change and weather-related risks, and
- Eliminate child under-nutrition by curbing stunting to 10% and underweight to 5%.
On Thursday, Statistics Canada released its latest Production of Principal Field Crops report. In it, it predicts that almost ever crop is set to decrease in production from last year. Given that last year’s record setting crop, a decrease will return production to normal levels. Wheat production is projected to drop 26.2% to 27.7 million tonnes, and oat production is set to drop 32.1%.
I was in attendance during the final negotiations on Responsible Agriculture Investment, and I echo the IAFN’s statement regarding the results:
In Rome, private sector representatives have expressed extreme dismay with the lack of recognition of the role of farmers in new Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investment. The Principles, to be endorsed by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in October, fail to recognise that farmers – in all their sizes – are a vital part of our agricultural system.
The document as currently worded suggests that being a farmer is not a valid self-identity – having to pick whether they are “smallholders” or “business”. It disrespects their established role around other UN processes and most of all it ignores their primary role in producing the world’s food. Private sector representatives have spoken on the Plenary floor, stating that this is a sad message to take back to farmer organisations around the world.
Research conducted in part by Dr. Allan Ronald and the University of Manitoba, long ago showed reduced risk of AIDS transmission in circumcised men. Despite subsequent recommendations by the World Health Organisation, countries have been slow to take up circumcision programming. One of the arguments was that men might be less responsible in their sexual decisions. New research shows that is not the case. Let’s hope the natural protection circumcision offers, combined with good practices, makes a dent in AIDS transmission.
Deborah Helen Fulton will be the new Secretary of the United Nations Committee on Food Security as of October. An Australian national, she was selected by a panel representing the Rome Based Agencies. As the secretariat for the private sector mechanism of the CFS, we look forward to working with her in the coming years.