Green Revolution 2.0 for Africa?

This time the “silver bullet” has a gun
Communiqué number: 
Issue: Everybody’s trying to jump-start science – and, especially, agricultural science – in Africa. Starting with the G8 meeting in Canada five years ago – and pledges by four of its members to build new centers of scientific excellence in Africa – the Syngenta Foundation, CGIAR, Jeffrey Sachs’s Earth Institute, and now, Google, Gates, and Rockefeller are all pushing new initiatives for the continent. While there is no denying that Africans deserve support in their struggle to address hunger, disease and climate change, science and technology are no “silver bullet” to resolve Africa’s problems. Yet, when the G8 meets this June in Germany they are expected to announce a new research agenda that will again propose scientific solutions to the world’s – and, particularly Africa’s – social problems.

Impact: Not everything being proposed for African science relates to food and agriculture, but the emphasis on food security is not surprising given weakening yield/population ratios and the reality that most marginalized Africans live in rural areas. New commitments to African agriculture are in the range of $75–$100 million per year and more money may be in the offing.  Summit winds and Foundation whims are only now being focused (desperately) by erstwhile sherpas into what they hope will morph into Green Revolution 2.0.  In the absence of a coordinated plan, the real beneficiaries will likely be the old Green Revolutionaries whose mistakes this second Revolution is meant to ameliorate.  Despite assertions to the contrary, there is a real danger that Green Revolution 2.0 will turn into a corporate biotech boom and the destruction of rural resiliency – and diversity – in Africa.

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