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A team from the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), has commended the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, for his giant strides in the bank since assumption of office.
The ATTF in a delegation led by its Board Chair, Dr. Ousmane Badiane, including Dr. Denis Kyetere, Executive Director, Dr. Emmanuel Okogbenin, Technical Operation Director and Mr. John Makokha, Resource Mobilization Officer to Abidjan congratulated Adesina.
The team eulogized him for initiating the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, a critical strategy of AfDB to transform Africa’s agriculture and ensure that the continent is self-sufficient in food production.
TAAT, which was established in 2015 after Adesina took over as the President of AfDB, aims at eliminating extreme poverty, ending hunger and malnutrition, achieving food sufficiency, and turning Africa into a net food exporter as well as setting Africa in step with global commodity and agricultural value chains.
The Program, to be jointly implemented by the CGIAR system in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa and other agricultural research and development organizations in Africa has eight priority agricultural value chain areas: rice sufficiency, cassava intensification, Sahelian food security, savannas as breadbaskets, restoring tree plantations, expanding horticulture, increasing wheat production, and expanded fish farming.
“TAAT is about right technologies getting into the hands of farmers. AATF’s products fit very well into the TAAT priority areas. Inclusion of AATF technologies in TAAT presents us with a large array of technologies for farmers to choose from. It is therefore important that AATF with its wealth of experience and ready technologies becomes an implementing partner in TAAT,” stated Adesina.
During the meeting, Kyetere shared with the AfDB team AATF’s approach and experience with public-private-partnerships, accessing technology solutions for smallholder farmers, and enhancing productivity as well as agri-business opportunities for wealth creation.
“We have ready to roll technologies that are already creating impact among rural farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and that resonate well with TAAT’s priorities. We are happy to participate in this great initiative towards a food secure Africa,’ said Kyetere.
He highlighted some of the AATF initiatives that could add value to TAAT’s goals such as the Cassava mechanization and Agri-Business Project that has increased cassava yields from 9 to 25 tonnes per ha and farmer incomes from US$62 to US$92 per tonne through production efficiency and reduction in labour drudgery especially for women; DroughtTego maize, a product of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa Project that is helping farmers deal with climate change challenges, StrigAway technology that is already changing the lives of smallholders in Striga endemic areas in East Africa and Hybrid rice that aims at achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in the region and currently showing potential to yield up to 7 tons per hectare.
Other technologies and initiatives that AATF is involved with and that have potential to change farmers’ livelihoods and help TAAT realize the goal of turning African Savannas into Bread Baskets include the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, Bt maize and the Seeds2B initiative that is about getting the right seed to market at the right time and right price.
The AATF team also met with Dr. Chiji Ojukwu, the Director Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department (OSAN) at AfDB, Ben Kanu and Jonas Chianu, the TAAT Task Team Lead. Ojukwu reiterated AfDB’s commitment to work with all relevant institutions including AATF to make TAAT a success in delivering technologies for agricultural transformation in Africa.
The AATF team also said Africa will soon have its own rice hybrids due to a public-private partnership project.
The varieties which have been developed using the 2-line rice hybrid technology have the potential to produce 7 tonnes per hectare.
Kenya will be among the first countries to benefit from this pioneering breakthrough in rice breeding in SSA as early as next year considering that two hybrids are already undergoing national performance trials. Farmers in Tanzania are likely to get access to the hybrids in 2018.
The project is further evaluating the performance of 127 rice hybrids for advancement to national performance trials, according to Dr Kayode Sanni, the Project Manager.
Hybrid rice seeds currently being planted in Africa are either imported from Asia or America. Egypt, is the only country in Africa that has developed its own rice hybrids. With this breakthrough, Africa will realize its own high yielding hybrid seeds, consequently boosting production and moving closer to self-sufficiency in rice production.
This is indeed good news to farmers, seed companies and rice consumers in SSA. While global production of rice has risen steadily from 132 million tonnes in 1960 to 491.5 million tonnes in 2015, Africa has not contributed much to the increase, producing only 3 per cent, with Asia accounting for 90 per cent of the global production.