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Biotech Needs to Use Language Smallholders Understand

First, I would like to thank all those who, in diverse ways, made it possible for me to attend the FAO Regional Biotech Conference for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the conference, most of the presenters painted a gloomy picture of agricultural production in Africa.

They mentioned the following challenges:

  1. New pests and diseases
  2. Low yielding seeds 
  3. Climate change
  4. Diseases of animals and fishes
  5. Food safety

It became very clear to me that only agricultural biotechnologies can sustain food systems and nutrition in Africa, although most of the research findings are still very far from the smallholder farmer. Despite the fact that farmer representation was very low at the conference, it was the smallholder farmer who was the target of the research findings. Most of the presentations were academic, though; I suggest that research findings should be in a language that the smallholder farmer understands.

The plenary session on post-harvest biotechnologies was very engaging and practical, and I had fruitful interactions with many attendees, including my delegation-mates, and I learnt a lot that I hope to bring back to my organization in Ghana. 

– Bransford Anthony Owususmallholder farmer, Ghana

This reflection is one in a series written by participants of the FAO Regional Biotech Conference for Africa held in Addis Ababa on November 22-24, 2017. 


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