Food for Africa

The InterAcademy Council book entitled Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture (InterAcademy Council, 2004) had stated, as one of its recommendations, that the bridge across the agricultural genetic divide between African countries and those in the developed world needed to be crossed. This divide separates the genetically improved varieties—derived either from conventional breeding or from the various tools of modern biotechnology—available to the developed world from those being used by resource-poor farmers in Africa.

The book concluded that there would need to be substantial investment to respond to the specific needs of African farmers if they were to derive benefit from both conventional breeding and modern biotechnology. Technology needed to be fine-tuned to African needs. We noted the long gestation period biotechnology required before its impact could be realised, and urged for investment sooner rather than later. Some of these calls have been answered and the outcomes will be discussed in this chapter.

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