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May 19, 2010

UNCTAD - Africa Needs A Green Revolution For Food Security

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) newly released Technology and Innovation Report (May 2010) concludes that Sub-Saharan Africa needs a "Green Revolution."

The report states that due to "decades of under-investment" the Sub-Saharan region needs new investments in agricultural technology in order to met food security and other targets of the Millenium Development Goals by 2015.  It concludes that the "sustained lack of public investment, exacerbated by the virtual exclusion of the private sector from agriculture, has left many states in Africa, once a net food exporter, dependent on imports for food."

The report focuses on the need for agricultural technology investments that target millions of small farmers in Africa.  It also recommends that unlike previous "Green Revolution" investments in Asia and Latin America, new technological investments in Africa need to be specifically adaptive to varying climate conditions.

UNCTAD Secretary General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi held a briefing on the report.  He noted that "Africa's capacity to provide food has declined by one fifth over the past 40 years. ...There has been a severe deterioration in the way that agriculture should have been addressed, supported by the national governments, supported by the international community and also supported by the kind of technology and innovation methodology that could really prove to be of great help as it has done in Asia."

In Africa, agriculture accounts for the largest share of economic activity.  It accounts for approximately 16 % of gross domestic product and 60%  percent of employment, which is made up of more than 95% small farmers. 

The report supports new crop varieties.  It specifically mentions support for Nerica (New Rice for Africa), an Asian-African hybrid developed in Africa with Japanese support that is drought resistance and increases yields. The report noted that there is a role for both hybridized and gene-engineered (GE) crops.  GE crops need to be evaluated in the context of African bio-diversity and trade.

Photo Credits: 1) Report cover, UNCTAD; 2) Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Former Deputy Prime Minister & Director General of the WTO, and currently the Secretary General of UNCTAD courtesy of the Office of Commercial Affairs, Embassy of Thailand, Washington, D.C.

For more see:

Lynn, Jonathan.  "Africa needs "Green Revolution" for food security-UN," Reuters, 19 May 2010.

"Report focuses on enhancing agricultural innovation, food security in Africa," UNCTAD, Media Release, 19 May 2010.

Technology and Innovation Report 2010: Enhancing Food Security in Africa Through Science, Technology and Innovation.  Geneva: UNCTAD, 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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