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Dr Denis T. Kyetere, the Executive Director AATF, has said that Africa has untapped resources which if harnessed could unlock the great potential of African agriculture. Speaking at the World Agri-Tech Investment Summit in London in September 2014, Dr Kyetere called on potential investors and partners to join hands with people in Africa and help unlock that potential. He said that Africa has huge tracts of uncultivated land; numerous underutilised technologies; resilient scientists and smallholder farmers; and a growing population and middle class; that provides opportunities for markets and establishment of agri-businesses.
Left: Dr Kyetere at a hybrid rice trial farm in Malindi, Kenya
Emphasizing the importance of agriculture, he said that it is the backbone of most African economies and that any meaningful effort to secure Africa’s future must address the persistent low agricultural productivity that plagues the continent.
He attributed the low farm productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa to pests and diseases; diminishing land sizes; declining soil fertility; wide spread land degradation; climate change and weather variability. These constraints are also compounded by inappropriate policies, weak institutions, market related failures and low use of technology.
“Solutions to the mix of challenges that face Africa’s agriculture also require a mix of interventions both technological and non-technological” said Dr Kyetere. AATF’s mandate, he said, addresses barriers to technology access and use which includes accessing, developing and delivering appropriate agricultural technologies for use by smallholder farmers and also contributes to the development of an enabling environment through initiatives that help inform policy and decision making in agriculture.
He urged participants at the summit to recognise this huge potential and contribute to unlocking it. “Investing in ideas, technologies and especially the people of Africa will definitely make a difference to overall performance” he said.
The World Agri-Tech Investment Summit is Europe’s annual meeting place for the global agri-tech industry.
With a specific focus on the application of big data in agri-tech, and in-depth analysis of the market opportunity for biopesticides, seed treatment and drought-resilience, the 2014 summit brought together global leaders in resource- efficient agriculture with the world’s most innovative technology developers and the international clean-tech investment community.