In this Interview with Agro News Updates, the Program Coordinator of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Dr Chrysantus Akem, highlighted some of the activities of TAAT to improve agricultural productivity in Africa. Our reporter brings excerpts.
What is the progress so far in deploying agricultural technologies in Africa?
This program started about a year and half ago, and within a year, when we evaluated how far we have gone, we have made a lot of progress. The very first challenge we had was to create the awareness that we needed to get all the technologies that we have in agriculture and put them into use so that we can transform agriculture in Africa. All the technologies were all in book shelves, some on publications and we keep lagging behind, we are not going very far in terms of productivity in the various commodities within Africa, so the challenge was basically how can we take those technologies to put them to effective use, and our assessment after a year shows that we are making a lot of effective progress, yields have increased already for a number of commodities.
What are the commodities?
The program is targeted at 18 value chains or commodities, and it was very Clare that we cannot start with all of them at the same time, so we selected 9 to begin with among which is cassava, Maize, beans and we have aquaculture, we have livestock, basically in the first phase, we focused on this 9 commodities.
Then the second phase is coming up, we are right now formulating it and we brought in the other 9 commodities that is still pending, and that include soybean, vegetables, we are trying to see how we can make an impact by looking at all these commodities across the given institutions and given countries.
What is the role of agriculture economists in the transformation of agriculture in Africa?
Basically when we look at agriculture economist, we see it more like a theoretical application, TAAT for example is taking things in the practical sense, looking at how can we optimize production and maximize profit, and that is what agriculture economics is all about, it is about economics of production, economics of finances and we see ourselves like a practical aspect of basically putting agricultural economies into reality.
That’s why we thought we should participate in this particular conference, we have a panel on Wednesday which we are going to give an overview of the program, what it’s all about, how far we have come and we have the audience to ask questions for clarifications because we think we have to bring everybody on board
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