Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bridge the gap between innovation and policy – change the paradigm

When it comes to food production and tackling hunger, we can’t continue with business-as-usual. We’ve been hearing that for years.

So, why is it still an issue?

According to Hans Herren, President of the Millennium Institute, it’s because scientific research and policymaking have become disconnected.

The 1995 World Food Prize winner’s passionate keynote address to around 300 agricultural scientists in Kigali, Rwanda, paved the way for a lively four-day conference onChallenges and opportunities for agricultural intensification of the humid highland systems of sub-saharan Africa, organized by CIALCA.

“While people are going hungry, the earth is being destroyed when, actually, we’ve known that we should have changed the course of agriculture long ago,” he said.

“Science has come up with a lot of good innovations (but) the policies have not followed. Business-as-usual is not an option – change the paradigm.”

Herren called for a better understanding of the complexity of agricultural systems, both above and below the ground.

Contemporary agriculture produces 4,600 kilo-calories per person, per day, he said. “No wonder we have half a billion obese people out there…We don’t need any more; we need it in different places, of a different quality, grown by different people.”

He also called for more investment in research and education.

“We want something different; we need something diff. [It’s time to] finish with the quick fixes.”

“It can be done, and it has to be done now,” he concluded.

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