Research for development in agriculture can answer pressing questions about food and water security in an increasingly changing climate, says the president and chief executive of South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Dr Shadrack Moephuli.
“Agriculture research is important to poverty alleviation and development because it provides scientific solutions on how we can come up with new products and services important to food security,” said Dr Moephuli at the 3rd International Forum on Water and Food (IFWF).
The ARC has taken a lead in developing appropriate technologies to enhance food and water security such as new drought resistant cultivars of wheat and maize, which are staple foods in Africa.
Dr Moephuli said research and development was particularly important for the five countries in the Limpopo River Basin – home to 14 million people of whom 8 million live in rural areas – because of its wide range rainfall patterns. In the east of the Basin the highest rainfall was 1500 mm while the lowest rainfall at 200mm was experienced in the western part.
“A key question for research is how we translate the results into products that can be used by the farmers and the communities in the river basins,” he said.
The IFWF explored linkages between poverty, food and water during discussions that brought together more than 300 experts from river basins and research organisations around the world. There was a particular focus on rainwater management, benefit-sharing mechanisms and strengthening adaptive capacity of organizations to deal with rapid changes.
By Busani Bafana