Rationale and Design

Strong correlations exist between nutrition deficiency, poor health, learning difficulties and poverty. Developments in agricultural science and technology over recent decades hold the prospect of major improvements in food security and poverty reduction in Africa and other parts of the developing world. However neither the private nor public sector can exploit this potential alone.

The private sector has significant technological, managerial and financial resources at its disposal. A small number of major international companies have developed new techniques, processes and products that can be readily adapted to improve agricultural products of value to the African smallholder farmer, yet these private companies currently have limited commercial incentives to develop such products. In the developing world the public sector research and development (R&D) institutions have limited access to new technologies and are under-resourced, but have strong knowledge of local crop varieties and the needs of smallholder farmers. The AATF concept aims to bring together in partnership private sector companies and public sector research institutions in developed nations with African stakeholders including national agricultural research systems (NARS) and other agricultural R&D institutions, farmers' associations, NGOs and national private sector agribusinesses. The aim is to access advanced scientific and technological resources and adapt them for use in Africa, especially focusing on products that will benefit smallholder farmers.

Concern over the increasing food insecurity in Africa and awareness of the gap between the agricultural science controlled by the developed countries and the needs of the poor in the developing world brought together representatives of the African agricultural scientific community, the Rockefeller Foundation, the five major international agribusiness companies, directors general and scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and other key stakeholders in a series of consultations over three years. The meetings were initiated by Rockefeller and facilitated by the Meridian Institute, a private, not-for-profit organisation that specialises in mediation and collaborative problem solving. Owners of agricultural technologies expressed a desire based on humanitarian needs to license their technologies, processes and products to AATF in pursuit of its mission. In return, the AATF would assume the role of the responsible party, ensuring appropriate use of the technologies, regulatory compliance of any resulting products and delivery and use of products to smallholder farmers.

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