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New study says Africa can feed itself in a generation

12-02-2010 16:56 BJT

by David Musyoka

NAIROBI, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- As regional presidents hold a retreat on Thursday in Tanzania to review results of landmark study on agriculture as they consider new food security strategies in light of climate change, a study says the continent is capable of feeding itself in a generation.

Experts prepared blueprint for Sub-Saharan Africa's transition from food importer to exporter, starting with expansion of mobile communications, transportation, energy, technical education and regional markets.

They say Africa can feed itself with further indications that the world's poorest continent can make the transition from hungry importer to self-sufficiency in a single generation.

The startling assertions, in stark contrast with entrenched, gloomy perceptions of the continent, highlight a collection of case studies published on Thursday entitled "The New Harvest, Agricultural Innovation in Africa," led by Harvard University professor Calestous Juma.

The studies present a clear prescription for transforming Sub- Saharan Africa's agriculture and, by doing so, its economy.

The strategy calls on governments to make African agricultural expansion central to decision making about everything from transportation and communication infrastructure to post-secondary education and innovation investment.

Preliminary results of the studies, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were adopted earlier this year by the 19- member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the continent's largest trading bloc. "African agriculture is at the crossroads," says Juma, a Kenyan professor of international development at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and recognized globally for his work in applying science and technology to sustainable development.

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