Europe, Africa Study Roads to Sustainable Intensification11 September 2013
GLOBAL - Food security, jobs, resource management and so on… Africa faces many challenges. To tackle them, the continent is betting on the diversity of its farming systems and calling on IntensAfrica, a wide-ranging initiative based on partnership between Europe and Africa, led by CIRAD and Wageningen University.
Sustainable intensification, ecology, agro-ecology, doubly green revolution, etc, etc... there is no shortage of words to express the need to innovate to ensure the future of agriculture worldwide, particularly in Africa.
While the multiplication of these concepts feeds controversy, it can also hamper the dynamic Africa needs to tackle the many challenges it faces, notably food security, jobs, and resource management.
In response to this situation, an ambitious European initiative aimed at working with Africa on the different roads to sustainable intensification, Intensafrica, has been launched. It is led by CIRAD and Wageningen University, and was presented at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week, in Accra, Ghana. From now on, the initiative will be pursued with the full participation of the African agricultural research sector, through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).
The initiative aims to build a vast programme to coordinate research on sustainable intensification in sub-Saharan Africa.
The programme should be one of the means of implementing the Agriculture Science Agenda for Africa (ASAA), within which the diversity of African agriculture is already a major concern.
"It is by working on that diversity that we will be able to check out different ways of changing agriculture and the role of agriculture in national economies," stresses Philippe Petithuguenin, CIRAD Deputy Director General in charge of Research and Strategy.
According to the philosophy of the future Intensafrica programme, no one model is better than another. "There are controversies and we will take them on board," says Etienne Hainzelin.
"But our role will not be to act as a judge. However, the research questions and knowledge generated will serve to fuel debate."
Eventually, the aim is to be in a position to make informed choices from a multitude of alternative models, in line with each situation, be it environmental, economic or social. This original approach will not replace more specialized supply chain-or plant-centred approaches, but should supplement them.
A far-reaching electronic forum on these topics will shortly be open to the various players concerned. Its results will be reported in a conceptual document scheduled for December 2013. Talks with donors will begin in early 2014.
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