Monday, September 27, 2010

'You can't eat potential'

Senegal, which recently unveiled an ambitious programme to boost agricultural production, has challenged the research community to harness resources to expand the potential of nutritious crops like cowpea in feeding Africa.

During the opening the 5th World Cowpea Research Conference in Saly, Hon. Khadim Gueye, Minister of Agriculture, Senegal said that researchers should harness physical and human resources to solve production and marketing constraints facing Africa’s farmers. Senegal has rolled out an ambitious programme known as GOANA to increase food production and access to farm research outputs through limited seed and fertilizer subsidies to targeted farmers.

Minister Guyed said the GOANA initiative would put Senegal on track for exporting agricultural produce, noting that this would only be realised with condusive environment including the provision of improved inputs. He expressed hope that the gathering of the cowpea experts in Senegal would result in solutions to fighting pests and diseases affecting cowpea.

ISRA director general, Dr. Macoumba Diof called for increased collaboration between research institutions and universities to enhance the development of cowpea in line with government priorities on crop diversification and competitiveness.

In remarks to the conference, Deputy Director-General IITA, Dr. Lakshmi Menon, said growing global population meant a steep growth in food demands, increasing the potential the role of cowpea to meeting food, nutritional, monetary and food needs.

"Sadly, you can’t eat potential. Potential doesn't feed people. It is up to us all here to do our part to help Africa realize its potential,” said Dr. Menon.

Calling for the use of technological tools to improve agriculture, Dr. Menon said strategic research partnerships were essential to take advantage of the improving regional trade conditions in Africa.

End/Busani Bafana/

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