A new pan-Africa mega initiative, ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT)’, was launched recently as an ambitious and bold plan to address poverty, hunger and malnutrition across the African continent.
The objectives of TAAT include: scaling up ‘proven’ technologies and innovations; contributing to engendering transformation needed to address the issues and prevent them from worsening; create widespread and real impact on the ground and in many realms including – productivity, food security, market access, income, etc; and assist African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Regional Member Countries derive greater value from agricultural produce.
The initiative aims to revitalize and transform agriculture within the shortest possible time while restoring degraded land and maintaining or strengthening the ecosystems that underpin agriculture.
At a recent international workshop, eight priority areas for intervention were identified (see table).
This initiative will be funded by AfDB and other co-sponsors, led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and supported by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), CGIAR centers, and national agricultural research system partners, who will provide technical and development support.
Dr Jonas Chianu, Principal Agricultural Economist, AfDB, listing the challenges that the African continent face, mentioned that one-third of all calories consumed in Africa is imported, amounting to US$77 billion per year. Poverty is widespread, with 49% of Africans earning below US$1.25 per day. This is further complicated as 40-60% of the 400-800 million young Africans are unemployed. Stressing on the need to address the low agricultural productivity and the weak value chains, he stated that solutions are needed for all categories and TAAT is a way of addressing this challenge.
ICRISAT has been working across the semi-arid region of Africa since the 1970s and is an active partner in ‘Achieving food security in the Sahel, with an emphasis on sorghum, millet, livestock’, which is one of the eight priority areas.
Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Director – West & Central Africa, ICRISAT-Mali, presented the various technologies tested and implemented by ICRISAT for cereals and legumes across the semi-arid regions. This included, improved varieties, fertility enhancement practices, mechanization, conservation agriculture and water management, and cropping systems.
Participants discussed how a collaborative approach could help achieve the goals of TAAT and turn Africa into a net food exporter as well as set Africa in step with global commodity and agricultural value chains. Adopting modernized, commercial agriculture is seen as the key to transforming Africa and the livelihoods of its people, particularly the rural poor.
Possibilities for collaboration/funding for TAAT with ongoing activities and funding mechanisms from different donors was discussed. Ways to increase synergies and decrease competition and overlap were also discussed.
The three-day workshop brought together leading agricultural experts from Africa and beyond, development institutions, research agencies, the private sector, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to define and chalk out the TAAT initiative, both in terms of approach and technical content. The workshop was held at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, from 12-14 April, and was attended by more than 200 participants.