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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Agricultural production in East Africa: Light at the end of the tunnel

Agricultural production in Eastern Africa is at the crossroads. Persistent food shortages are now being amplified by climate change, rapid population growth, scarcity of arable land and rising food prices.

There are three critical opportunities that can help transform agriculture in East Africa into a force for economic growth. First, the East African Common Market, which came into effect on 1st July 2010, provides new incentives for agricultural production and free trade across the region. Second, advances in science and technology globally offer East Africa new tools and innovation needed for resilient agricultural production systems. Third, strengthening technical competence of East African farmers (especially women) through innovative institutional reform to support a closer integration and collaboration between universities and national agricultural research institutions. Currently, most research in agriculture is carried out in research institutions that do not teach while universities have limited access to research support.

In the larger context of promoting regional integration, there is urgent for new policies and institutional models to enable and support the alignment of research science and technology goals with agricultural development investments.

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