Des Moines, Iowa, 14 October 2011 – Sustainable agricultural production based on practices and technologies adapted to local conditions is key to ensuring food security in Africa and around the world, FAO Director-General Elect Jose Graziano da Silva said at the 2011 Borlaug Dialogue promoted by the World Food Prize Foundation.
“For agriculture, we cannot start with one-size-fits-all,” Graziano said during a roundtable discussion hosted by US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The event also featured the ministers of agriculture from Ghana, Kwesi Ahwoi; from Mozambique, José Pacheco; and Jumanne Maghembe, from Tanzania; and was part of the World Food Prize Foundation’s annual Borlaug Dialogue. This year, the World Food Prize was awarder to the formers President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and of Ghana, John Kufuor.
Greening the Green Revolution
“We are in Borlaug’s house, and the Green Revolution has much to do in Africa and in many countries around the world,” said Graziano da Silva. He stressed, however, the need to green the green revolution, cautioning against increased dependence on chemicals, especially fertilizer, as well as over-reliance on mechanization.
The Director-General elect advocated for greater South-South Cooperation and knowledge exchange between and within Latin America and Africa to promote sustainable agricultural production.
“In Argentina, 90 percent of the corn and soybean production comes from areas with no tillage. This kind of knowledge needs to be shared,” he said, adding that Africa was the new agricultural frontier of the world.
Graziano da Silva also recalled that Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, was developed based on a concept of “tropicalization” of agricultural technologies, taking the seeds, machinery and practices in Northern countries and adapting them to tropical areas. Today, it develops crop varieties adapted to a range of tropical sub-climates and is sharing this experience with other developing countries.
Adapting technology to local conditions, rather than “reinventing the wheel” is crucial, Graziano da Silva said, adding that deep local capacity was needed.
New model of cooperation
He stressed the need to avoid in South-South Cooperation the traditional vision of international cooperation, of having countries that are donors and others that are recipients. “Cooperation is a process that both can learn from, especially in agriculture.”