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Africa can leapfrog out of the deepening pit of
poverty on the continent’s socio-economic fabric, Professor Calestous Juma
asserts in a must-read new book.
The continent’s agriculture is at crossroads, with
persistent food shortages compounded by threats from climate change.
The book illuminates three major opportunities that can
transform Africa’s agriculture into a force for economic growth: advances
in science and technology; the creation of regional markets; and the emergence
of a new crop of entrepreneurial leaders dedicated to the continent’s economic
improvement.

Aptly titled, THE NEW HARVEST: Agricultural Innovation
in Africa
, the book is filled with case studies from within Africa and success
stories from developing nations around the world.
It outlines the policies and changes necessary to promote
agricultural innovation across the continent.
‘’Incorporating research from academia, government, civil
society, and private industry, the book suggest ways individual African
countries can work together to develop local knowledge and resources, harness
technological innovation, encourage entrepreneurship, increase agricultural
output, create markets, and improve infrastructure,’’ information from the
publishers, Oxford University Press reads.
The book was inspired by pessimistic views on African
agriculture. The author is optimistic that African is in good stead to feed
itself in one generation.
Professor Juma is a Professor of the Practice of
International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and
Globalisation Project at Harvard University.
He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, the United
Kingdom’s scientific academy.
Accolades for the book include one from Goodluck Jonathan,
the President of Nigeria who says: “this book presents a timely analysis of the
importance of infrastructure in improving   Africa’s agriculture.
Leaders at national and state levels will benefit immensely from its
evidence-based recommendations.’’
“The ‘New Harvest’ underscores the importance of global
learning in Africa’s agricultural development. It offers new ideas for
international cooperation on sustainable agriculture in the tropics,’’ Laura
Chincilla, President of Costa Rica observed.
The book takes the reader on a conducted tour of The Growing
Economy; Advances in Science, Technology, and Engineering; Agricultural
Innovation System; Enabling Infrastructure; Human Capacity; 
Entrepreneurship; Governing Innovation; Climate Change, Agriculture, and
Economy; and Entrepreneurial Leadership.
The book kick starts with outlining the critical linkages
between food security, agricultural development, and economic growth. It shines
a light on why Africa has lagged behind other regions in agricultural
productivity. 
This status could only about-turn with significant political
leadership, investment, and deliberate policy efforts.
It endeavours to review major advances in science,
technology, and engineering and identifying their potential for use in African
agriculture.
This exploration includes an examination of local innovation
as well as indigenous knowledge encompassing information and communications
technology, genetics, ecology, and geographical sciences.
The book emphasizesthe convergence of these and other fields
and their implications for African agriculture.
Positioning sustainable agriculture as a knowledge-intensive
sector requires fundamental reforms in existing learning institutions,
especially universities and research institutes, to integrate research,
teaching, extension, and commercialisation.
‘’There is urgent need to invest in agricultural research
universities in order to move African agriculture forward. Research and
training should be strengthened in order to achieve success. Boosting support
for agricultural research is part of a larger agenda to promote innovation,’’
Professor Juma enthused in an interview with this writer.
It is important to provide an enabling infrastructure for
agricultural development. Modern infrastructure facilities need to reflect the
growing concern over climate change.
In this regard, there is need to design ‘smart
infrastructure’ to take advantage of advances in the engineering sciences as
well as ecologically-sound systems design.
Infrastructure promotes agricultural trade and helps
integrate economies into world markets. It is also fundamental to human
development, including the delivery of health and education services.
Infrastructure investments further represent untapped potential for the
creation of productive employment,’’ the book reads in part.
Human capacity is integral to agricultural development
through access to methods of improving techniques, increasing production, and
gaining the ability to transform the sector into an income earning endeavour.
By so doing African nations would benefit in terms of GDP,
standard of living, infrastructure and economic stability. There should be more
investment in agricultural training from primary up to tertiary level.
The creation of agricultural enterprises represents one of
the most effective ways to stimulate rural development.
Article By Nawa Mutumweno for Times of Zambia

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