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Agricultural mechanization in sub-Saharan Africa: time for a new look









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    Consultative Meeting on Mechanization Strategy: New Models for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in sub-Saharan Africa 2017
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    Sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) is an essential input for the development of the smallholder farm sector in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The benefits of SAM range from drudgery reduction to improved timeliness of agricultural operations, increased input use efficiency, facilitating sustainable production intensification, ensuring environmental protection, and contributing to make agriculture more ‘climate-smart’. SAM is also important at other levels of the food supply system, for exam ple in post-harvest operations, processing, marketing and transportation. Previously in SSA, mechanization efforts were largely been driven by the public sector. Today there is a need, with appropriate social and natural environmental considerations, to adopt a more holistic view of what mechanization is and learn from the errors made in the past. A cornerstone of SAM is the importance of involving the private sector (especially machinery manufacturers, suppliers and service providers). It needs to be brought to the forefront in SAM development and provision, but without neglecting the important role that the public sector and its institutions can also play. The Consultative Meeting provided a platform to discuss SAM in general, SAM strategies and implementation options, experiences and recommended concrete lines of future action for SSA. Lessons learned from Asia and past experiences in SSA were presented, as well as various models for SAM collaboration and diffusion in SSA. This plat form allowed to better understand appropriate policies that may be required to support and promote the implementation of SAM at regional and national level within SSA. A special focus was placed on three key areas which were the subject of debate and discussion in three working groups. These were: (i) new collaborative models of public-private partnerships; (ii) modalities and approaches for establishing a global SAM knowledge exchange platform and; (iii) the establishment of regional centres or networks for SAM in SSA. The Meeting also received feedback on the on-going FAO-African Union Commission technical cooperation project that is seeking to develop a SAM strategy framework for SSA.
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    Evolving a plant breeding and seed system in sub-Saharan Africa in an era of donor dependence
    A report for the Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building
    2011
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    Because of the complexity of crop breeding in sub-Saharan Africa, the dependence on public sector institutions in producing improved varieties, the often constrained capacity of public sector institutions and reliance on donor funding for operational capacity at national, subregional and continental level, this report argues for better integration of breeding capacities within what might be termed a plant breeding and seed system for sub-Saharan Africa. A plant breeding system conceived at a con tinental level both captures the scale economies inherent in plant breeding but also meets the requirements of local adaptation so critical in low-input farming systems. To achieve this there will need to be changes in institutional arrangements at national, subregional and continental level and greater coherence in donor funding of plant breeding on the continent. To substantiate this argument, the report reviews the history and current status of plant breeding and seed-system development on th e continent. This is done by focusing on plant breeding in rice, maize, cassava, beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and vegetables and reviewing plant breeding capacity in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi based on the most important crops in each country.
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    The MDGs and Sustainable Rural Development in sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Implications for Education for Rural People (ERP)
    Ministerial Seminar on Education for Rural People in Africa: Policy Lessons, Options and Priorities - hosted by the Government of Ethiopia - 7–9 September 2005, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    2005
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    The vast majority of the human population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is rural. In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a special effort must be devoted to promoting rural development and fostering better living conditions of the rural poor. In this respect, this paper justifies the need for a strong specific focus on rural people and argues that education is the most effective way to empower the rural poor to get out of poverty and to ensure that the MDG targets are met in S SA. The paper provides empirical data on the human development situation and trends for rural peoples of the region, explains the critical roles agriculture, food security and nutrition for the achievement of the MDGs, identifies key potentials and strategic challenges of sustainable agriculture and rural development, and highlights the important contribution of ERP for sustainable rural development and for achieving the MDGs. The ERP key contribution to poverty alleviation was also acknowledged by the African Union Extra-ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa (2004).

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