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Africa can feed itself in a generation: Study
Date:12/2/2010

ailable on how to improve yields, weather, market prices, input costs and disease surveillance. Ordering seeds or supplies, communication with buyers, and even money exchange using airtime credit as a currency are also all far more easily accomplished thanks to mobile devices.

Notes Prof. Juma: "One way for Africa to foster inclusive economic growth is to apply innovation in agriculture which employs the majority of the people. This is also a way to address concerns that technology widens the gap between the rich and the poor. The use of module phones in rural Africa show the promise of more inclusive innovation strategies."

  • Infrastructure: "The importance of providing an enabling infrastructure for agricultural development cannot be overstated," the report says. In fact, the difficulty of transportation causes some peasant farmers to reduce production even when soil and weather conditions would allow better yields. "Without access to markets, farmers can't use what they could produce, so they produce only enough for themselves to eat," Prof. Juma says. "Farmers are smart enough not to grow crops if they are going to rot on their farms."

  • Water: More than 40 per cent of Africa's rural population lives in arid or semi-arid conditions and tens of millions live in areas with absolute water scarcity. Only four per cent of the arable land is irrigated. But the continent's many lakes and rivers could supply water to the many areas that have high-quality soil but too little moisture.

  • Energy: Africa has too little electricity but vast amounts of untapped hydro and solar potential. Building dams and other generating infrastructure would be relatively inexpensive; the major impediment is constructing transmission grids to move the power to where it's needed.

All of the infrastructure needs are connected, Prof. Juma notes. Plans for a hydroelectric generating station, for example, might be hampered, or
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
Harvard Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Source:Eurekalert  

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