Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The African Green Revolution - Accra
I had the privilege of participating in the African Green Revolution Forum in Accra last week. It was enormously uplifting to attend this event - some 800 delegates gathered together to develop plans and share ideas on how to revitalize African agriculture.
Along with all the pomp and ceremony that accompanies events like this, the content of the Forum was deeply thought-provoking, in particular the emphasis on the need for both public and private sector investment to unlock Africa's agricultural potential. Anyone with an interest in investing in the sector is well-advised to visit the Forum's website http://agforum.com/ for extensive coverage of the discussions and agreed actions.
Needless to say, given my own particular professional interests, support to the seed sector figured highly on my agenda at the Forum. It was gratifying to hear about the numerous initiatives underway to support seed research, development and commercialization, though much more needs to be done at a policy level to accelerate the release of new seed varieties. In particular, I would like to see national research organisations - and individual plant breeders - able to secure financial rewards from varieties successfully launched into the market. Well-structured incentives to breeders and researchers would almost certainly increase the flow of new and improved varieties to farmers - and numerous models exist from North American and European research institutions. Having said that, robust systems for the registration, protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property rights are also required (and are absent in many African countries).
On a lighter note, I certainly can't complain about the hotel accommodation in Accra. Having initially been disappointed to have been booked by the organisers to stay at the Holiday Inn close to Kotoka airport - rather than having an ocean view at the Labadi Beach Hotel - my disappointment was assuaged on discovering on arrival at the Holiday Inn that my room had been upgraded, to the extraordinary dimensions of the Presidential Suite, no less!