Food security scare as Senegal snubs agri tech

GOVERNMENT

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Food security scare as Senegal snubs agri tech

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal

Many observers believe that Senegal’s problems of food insecurity and severe malnutrition are self-inflicted, as the drought-hit West African nation continues to rely on rain-fed agriculture while snubbing agricultural innovation.

The country has long ignored the micro-propagation invitro or plant cloning- a technology that consists of cloning (artificially multiplying) plants in a small space of time to boost agricultural production and increase food self-sufficiency.

The innovative practice, successfully adopted in North Africa and several developed countries, is seen by some analysts as a better and long-term response to the food problems facing Senegal, whose 6% of its population (800 000 people), including 120 000 children under five, are malnourished and are in dire need of food aid.

The Government of Canada, through its Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has this month pledged $20 million over three years (2012-2015) to support to food security and nutrition projects in Senegal.

“It’s the politicians’ fault. We wouldn’t have such a food crisis if we have travelled the agricultural innovation route a long time ago,” a source close to the Agence Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique Appliquée (ANRSA) told Biztechafrica.

Dakar-based ANRSA is the government-funded institution trying to develop the above-mentioned technology, but faces problems of shortage of funding, equipment and skills.

“It doesn’t matter how small the plant is, whether it can produce grains or not, it can be multiplied on a big scale, and the results will be amazing,” the source, who was not authorised to speak to the media, explained.

Small-scale farmers, the source said, can also be equipped with such skills and technology so that they can do their own things and help the country defeats the spectre of malnutrition, unemployment and high food prices.

It is also believed that this innovative practice can help save and conserve endangered plant species.

Agriculture represents 75% of Senegal’s workforce, and accounts for about 20% of its GDP. The country has only 5% of irrigated land and had seen its 2011-2012 agricultural season ends in failure as drought destroyed most of its best crops.

This has resulted to the increase of food prices and put a huge strain on the already struggling households.

The Senegalese government has identified food self-sufficiency as one of its top priorities, but it is widely criticised for lacking a clear sense of direction in the area   of agricultural innovation, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says.

IFPRI regrets that despite four different government agencies currently setting the country’s agricultural innovation agenda, they are often overlapping and even having conflicting mandates.

Senegal is Africa’s biggest rice importer ahead of Côte d'Ivoire and behind Nigeria, with rice currently topping over 75% of all cereal imports.

The World Bank has in May this year approved USD120 million to finance the second phase of the West African agricultural productivity program aiming to improve food production by spreading new agricultural technologies in Ghana and Senegal.

The Washington-based institution said the programme will finance technology exchange programs, align national priorities with regional ones to increase regional cooperation in food technology generation, and support a greater push for technology adoption and dissemination.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

NIMC postpones mandatory use of NIN

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has postponed the date for the commencement of the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN), from September 1, this year to January 9, next year. Read More

Tigo Cash first in line to accept e-Goverment payments through Irembo

Tigo Rwanda has announced its partnership with Rwanda Online Platform Ltd (ROPL) for e-Government service payments via the Irembo,gov.rw e-government portal. Read More

SIM deactivation: NCC to sanction telcos over non-compliance

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), says it will impose sanctions on Nigeria carriers over partial and non-compliance with its directive to deactivate all SIMs that do not conform to laid down procedures. Read More

Expert wants MDAs to embrace e-revenue collection

An electronic payment expert,  Deremi Atanda, has urged Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to embrace the use of technology, especially the electronic or e-payment platform to collect revenue. Read More

SADC lends weight to STI

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has put its weight behind the regional initiatives to boost Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).  Read More

NCA to auction Infrastructure License

Ghana’s National Communication Authority will soon be auctioning its Infrastructure License to the public. Read More

Telcos get 7-day SIM ultimatum

The Nigerian Communications Commission has handed down a seven-day ultimatum to network providers to deactivate all pre-registered SIM cards or face sanctions. Read More

Prof Danbatta named NCC chief

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as the new Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NCC. Read More

CEO of BOCRA to open SAPOA AGM

Thari Pheko, The Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Chief Executive Officer will be the guest of honour at the 14th southern Africa Postal Operators Association annual general meeting. Read More

Prof Quaynor calls for greater partnerships within Ghana’s ICT sector

The Board Chairman of Ghana’s National Information Technology Agency (NITA) Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, has called for a much greater collaboration and partnership within the country’s Information and Communication Technology sector. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4Afrika

FEATURED STORY

Young innovators shine during pitch sessionsYoung innovators shine during pitch sessions

Botswana saw an array of upcoming tech wizards selling their ideas during the Vendors’ Day pitch sessions this week.

IN DEPTH

High tech homes: Just press playHigh tech homes: Just press play

High tech, digital homes where everything is automated and connected aren’t the stuff of science fiction any longer, says BNC Technology.