Innovations Vital for Food Security (Truth about Trade and Technology)

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Innovations Vital for Food Security

The African Executive
July 21-28, 2010
http://www.africanexecutive.com

Agricultural innovations are still relevant in transforming livelihoods in Africa, a stakeholder lecture on “Food and Culture” has heard.

Using a case study of the cassava revolution in Africa, researchers estimate that resource-poor farmers in Nigeria, alone, traded improved cassava stems—a part that is often neglected for having commercial value—worth more than US$1 million (about N150m) in five years. Professor Lateef Sanni, IITA Scientist, says that this increase in incomes of farmers came between 2003 and 2008.

Organized by the Public Affairs Section of the United States Consulate General, Lagos and IITA in Ibadan; the “Food and Culture” lecture brought together experts in the food and agricultural sector including a guest lecturer from Tufts University. Stakeholders reviewed the US agricultural experience and brainstormed on areas that Africa could tap into.

In his presentation titled: “Roots and Tubers: Food Security Crops in Nigeria,” Sanni said cassava was a food security crop in Nigeria and a major provider of employment and income. He said the crop appeals to farmers because of its affordability, ease of cultivation, and high return on investment. Apart from the stems, cassava roots and leaves are now offering additional income streams to farmers.

Despite cassava’s role in the food web, Sanni said more attention by way of support to research was needed. More importantly, cutting down postharvest losses through investment in processing technologies and the creation of an appropriate policy framework were necessary to sustain cassava’s role in ensuring food security in the future.

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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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