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Pioneer Leader Highlights Need to Increase Ag Output in Africa

Speaking before a global audience of more than 100 ambassadors and economic officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  today (May 13, 2011), Daniel Rahier, director of Biotech Policy, Government, Regulatory & Industry Affairs for Europe, Africa and Asia, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, stressed the increasingly urgent need to boost agricultural productivity throughout the world, including Africa. 

"Just last week the United Nations announced that Africa's population is one of the world's fastest growing,  and could well triple before the end of the century increasing from today's one billion to 3.6 billion people," said Rahier.  "Of the nearly 1 billion food insecure people in the world today, nearly a quarter of them reside in Africa.  This predicted population growth along with climate shifts to a hotter, drier world, means we must use every available resource to grow more food."

Rahier noted that agricultural tools such as biotechnology, plant breeding and better agronomic practices are available to help narrow the gap between what is being produced today, and what is needed tomorrow.  "But these tools are not enough.  We must also close the knowledge gaps that exist between the public and private sectors." 

Rahier pointed to the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project, which is working to develop an improved variety of sorghum that will contain increased levels of key vitamins. Led by Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, Inc. (AHBFI), an African non-profit, the project is a collaboration between non-profits, NGOs, institutes, universities and Pioneer, the scientific lead. Pioneer has donated technology worth at least US$4.8 million, along with in-kind support.   

 "Agriculture is a business that can significantly contribute to the economic development of Africa and there's a need for regulatory infrastructure in many African countries to deliver the most technologically advanced products into the hands of farmers," said Rahier. "Science, and not just biotechnology, is moving so fast, the challenge is to keep up. There are knowledge gaps between those developing the products, and those reviewing them, and that gap is widening every day.  We need a coordinated effort between the public sector, United Nations bodies and other government entities to help provide the training that is specific for the needs of each country."

Rahier was one of the opening speakers at the May 13-15 International Conference and Exhibition on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa: Fostering Innovation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The conference was organized by the Addis Ababa University; the Agricultural Innovation in Africa (AIA), Harvard Kennedy School Harvard University; and the United Nations Development Programme.

 

Read the news release: Pioneer Leader Highlights Need to Increase Ag Output in Africa

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