02 May 2008

Salzburg Global Seminar: Africa on Agenda of Africans and Others

Day 3 of the Salzburg Global Seminar on "Towards a 'Green Revolution' in Africa."

Productivity, markets and trade, equity, sustainability, farmers and households have all been on the agenda.

The global food crisis did not hijack the agenda, as some had feared, but was clearly on our minds here.

We recognized; however, that while the immediate need to address the crisis is important, we should not lose sight of the longer time horizon required by making real change in African agriculture.

Infrastructure, conflicts, and genetically modified organisms were also on the minds of many here; however, as quickly as these issues were brought up, they were also tabled.

Appropriate? Not necessarily; but most of us recognized we didn't have the time to adequately address these issues.

There must be a focus on these issues and the potential impacts of climate change, by some body. Perhaps sub-groups on peace and stability, infrastructural investments, cliamte impacts, and GMOs?

One subject that came up consistently was strengthening the capacity of farmers and their organizations, as well as ensuring the concerns of farmers and pastoralists (ranchers) are included in agenda-setting.

Another consistent subject was gender equity; both empowering women, but also getting men more completely engaged in agriculture.

One could argue these are not concerns raised at the time of the earlier Green Revolution -- at least not when it was conceived or launched.

Thinking these issues through up front will ensure this Green Revolution/Revolution Vert en Afrique will be very different and, hopefully, even more beneficial to people on the continent as a result.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is quite simple: we need a people-focused Green Revolution in Africa.

(Composed on BlackBerry; links to come in future.)