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AGRICULTURE & DEVELOPMENT: GMOs ‘not solution to food crisis in Africa‘




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  GMOS ‘NOT SOLUTION TO FOOD CRISIS IN AFRICA‘

SOURCE: Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR: Jeff Otieno

URL:    http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=1&newsid=102497

DATE:   17.07.2007

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GMOS ‘NOT SOLUTION TO FOOD CRISIS IN AFRICA‘

Genetically modified foods were not the only solution to Africa’s food crisis, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said yesterday.

The challenges confronting agriculture in Africa were complex and it would take more than genetically modified foods to address them.

”Poor seeds, low prices for agricultural produce, lack of storage facilities and poor markets and infrastructure all contribute to the continent’s food crisis,” he said.

 

Green revolution

The Alliance for a Green Revolution, of which he is the chairman, will not focus on GMOs but on traditional foods that Africans have grown and fed on for generations.

”The organisation will use the known conventional methods of breeding seeds for improved agricultural production and also intervene in other areas that hinder farmers from benefiting from their activities,” he told reporters at the Serena Hotel, Nairobi.

”We don’t know what science will have for us in the next 10 to 20 years and we are ready to learn and apply appropriate technologies,” Mr Annan, also a Nobel laureate, added.

GMOs are foods that have had their genetic codes altered through engineering.

They are produced by inserting DNA taken from another organism and modified in a laboratory to produce new traits.

Mr Joseph De Vries, the director of the Green Revolution programme for Africa’s seed systems, said conventional breeding that helped revolutionise agriculture in other continents had not been fully applied in Africa and the new organisation would focus on this method.

Mr Annan, who arrived in Kenya last Saturday, has visited various agricultural sites to popularise the goals of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

One of its aims to is to help lift millions of small-scale farmers out of poverty by focusing on high quality seeds, soil health, provision of water, boosting their access to markets and advocating for favourable agricultural policies.

Mr Annan said African scientists who had developed hybrid crops suitable for various ecological zones should be supported in their efforts to increase agricultural yields in the continent.

To enable the organisation succeed in its quest, Mr Annan urged governments to improve infrastructure and formulate appropriate agricultural policies to benefit millions of small-scale farmers who make up a large chunk of the continent’s rural population.

Agriculture permanent secretary Romano Kiome said Kenya had launched a strategy for revitalisation of agriculture to raise agricultural productivity by five per cent per year, starting this year.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  ANNAN RULES OUT USE OF GMOS IN THE WAR ON HUNGER IN AFRICA

SOURCE: Business Daily Africa, Kenya

AUTHOR: Allan Odhiambo

URL:    http://www.bdafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1955&Itemid=5811

DATE:   17.07.2007

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ANNAN RULES OUT USE OF GMOS IN THE WAR ON HUNGER IN AFRICA

17-July-2007: In what is bound to stir controversy in agriculture and scientific circles, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has ruled out the use of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) in the battle against food insecurity and poverty in Africa.

”We in the alliance will not incorporate GMOs in our programmes. We shall work with farmers using traditional seeds known to them,” he said. Mr Annan said poor pricing of commodities, and not type of seeds, keeps African growers away from their farmlands despite spiralling food insecurity and poverty on the continent.

”We need to get the right seeds into their hands by strengthening research partnerships with local universities and other institutions,” he said. Mr Annan said insufficient infrastructure such as roads, poor storage facilities and weak market structures were to blame for Africa’s continued dependence on food aid.

”Millions of Africans are being fed through aid and this is not sustainable. We have the means to make Africa self sustainable,” he said. Mr Annan, who chairs the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), said infrastructure development will top the organisation’s agenda for the next five years.

”We need proper market systems, an infrastructure of roads and storage facilities because failure by farmers to access them acts as a demoralising factor,” he said. Agra was established last year with an initial $150 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates and Rockefeller foundations.

It seeks to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families get out of poverty and hunger through sustainable growth in farm productivity and incomes. Mr Annan said food production in Africa could be doubled in the next decade with improved seeds and increased access to inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.

The Alliance was formed in response to recent calls by African leaders to chart a new path for prosperity by spurring the continent’s agricultural development and also seeks to help reverse decades of relative neglect in funding for agricultural development for Africa.

It seeks to firm the vision laid out in the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which seeks a 6 percent annual growth in food production by 2015 through increased usage of new technology and inputs such as fertiliser.

CAADP was established by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD) in July 2003 with special focus on four pillars including, extending area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems, improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access, increasing food supply, reducing hunger and improving response to food emergency.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  ANNAN TO LEAD GREEN REVOLUTION FOR AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

SOURCE: Reuters

AUTHOR: Wangui Kanina

URL:    http://africa.reuters.com/business/news/usnBAN652208.html

DATE:   17.07.2007

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ANNAN TO LEAD GREEN REVOLUTION FOR AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Africa needs a ”green revolution” to double agricultural output and end chronic food insecurity in the world’s poorest continent, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday.

The former top diplomat is the chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, set up last year with a $150 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

”We are the only continent that has not gone through a green revolution and we are the only continent that cannot feed itself this is not sustainable,” Annan told a news conference in Nairobi.

Annan said the Nairobi-based group hoped to replicate farm changes that boosted agricultural productivity in countries like India in the 1970s.

”I hope that in 10 to 20 years or so we will be able to double Africa’s agricultural productivity,” he said.

According to the United Nations, food insecurity in Africa is worsened by weak institutions, insufficient investment in agriculture by governments and donors, and a harsh environment made worse by climate change, corruption and mismanagement.

He said the group would focus on helping Africa’s millions of small-scale farmers fight poverty and boost productivity by providing stronger and more resistant seed varieties, and improving access to farm inputs and markets.

Annan said the group would not seek to spearhead the use of genetically modified seeds, which have been a controversial subject in some African countries, but would use traditional methods to boost disease resistance of existing seeds.

”The decisions on using genetically modified technology area decisions for African governments,” he said.


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