Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Report: Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

18th September 2013. The SDSN Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems released their report Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. TECHNICAL REPORT FOR THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA (108 pages)

The new, agriculture, report was released together with six other reports by the network's thematic groups on issues including health, natural resource management, and ecosystem services and biodiversity.

The reports represent a major input by scientists towards a new set of global development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goalsin 2015.

SciDev 19/09
: Research funding and skills key to food for post-2015. The report notes that only well-trained scientists and agricultural practitioners can provide the innovation and drive to bring about the necessary change.

Many national agricultural research systems in developing nations are not up to the task and rely heavily on foreign donors, it says. Increasing national research spending to one per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) is essential to rectify weaknesses in human capacity, in terms of both skills and numbers, infrastructure and governance, the report adds. Furthermore, to avoid a generation-long gap in agricultural expertise, developing nations must focus on encouraging young people to pursue careers in relevant fields, it says. The low number of students studying in fields such as agronomy, soil science and pest management, particularly in Africa, is a real worry.

Aggrey Agumya, senior technical advisor at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, based in Ghana, believes that the capacity gap is so acute in many countries that even a doubling of public research spending might be insufficient. He says that:
"The seriousness of the problem is masked by the fact that any spending increases often go on better salaries rather than improvements to infrastructure and research networks. But the greatest problem is not the lack of researchers but the inability of institutions to apply findings in ways that bring practical benefits. To improve this, great efforts must be made to strengthen agricultural institutions' planning and governance capacities to maximise research benefits".

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