AATF marks 10th anniversary in Ghana

farmer_1The Africa Agricultural Technologies Foundation (AATF) has marked its 10th anniversary with a renewed zeal of making more agricultural technologies available to smallholder farmers.

Professor Idah Sithole-Niang, Board Chair of AATF, said at a ceremony in Accra on Thursday that the technologies that AATF helped to access varied depending on priority needs identified by farmers.

“These can include chemical, mechanical, biological, biotechnological and process-based solutions,” she said.

Prof. Sithole-Niang said: “Within the next five years, another five or so technologies will be in farmers hands – technologies that address critical constraints such as insect damage on key African staple crops such as cowpea, drought effects on maize, and disease affliction on banana to mention a few.”

She said the technologies offered potential to contribute to the health of farmers by reducing insecticide use.

Prof Sithole-Niang said the concept of AATF was about African farmers and it provided them with practical technology solutions.

This was because productivity in Africa lagged behind the global average and technology was key to reversing that trend and unlocking the potential of African agriculture, she said.

In its 10 years of existence, AATF had carried out 10 projects in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Uganda, and South Africa.

She mentioned projects like Striga control in maize, which controls the noxious striga weed that reduces maize yields; Aflatoxin control in maize and peanuts that protected harvest from deadly fungus and cassava mechanization, agro processing and making quality seeds available at the right time to engender agricultural transformation.

AATF traces its beginnings to the year 2000 when Rockefeller Foundation, an international NGO, supported a series of consultations called “Biotechnology Dialogues” to find ways of closing the growing gap between the agricultural science controlled by developed countries and the needs of the developing world.

The consultations created a platform that enabled representatives of public research organizations, major life science companies, NGOs and consumer groups to come together to discuss and find ways to apply advanced science to help reduce food insecurity.

Thus in 2003, AATF was incorporated in the United Kingdom and in Kenya, officially setting it up as a mechanism to facilitate public private partnerships for the access and delivery of appropriate agricultural technologies for use by farmers in SSA.

Dr Denis .T. Kyetere, Executive Director, AATF, commended partners like United Kingdoms’ Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for supporting the implementation of projects in various countries.

Dr Abdulai .B. Salifu, Director General, CSIR, described AATF as an important partner in helping to improve agricultural yields in Ghana, particularly in the areas of technology transfer, biotechnology, cowpea production and seed provision.

Source: GNA

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