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The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) is developing new strategies to help transform the continent’s agriculture, a senior official said on Thursday.

Diran Makinde, NEPAD’s Senior Advisor for Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation, said the strategies are aimed at responding to the developmental challenges facing agriculture sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The strategies are expected to contribute to the enhancement of science, technology and business innovation for rural agricultural transformation,” Makinde told Xinhua on Thursday during a symposium on regional bioeconomy in Kigali.

He added that NEPAD plans to develop a critical mass of youthful business leaders by providing a supporting environment where startups, innovations and disruptive ideas from universities are fast tracked to service communities and nurture enterprises.

Makinde also called on African governments to reinforce the efforts by developing local strategies that address challenges of the available traditional African skills.

“Issues pertaining to regulations and ethics, education and awareness should be addressed through clear development strategies to prepare the youth for their future role as decision makers,” he added.

He emphasized that matters on technology prospecting, regulatory and ethical requirements are needed for the continent to benefit from emerging technologies for economic development and environmental sustainability.

Makinde called for timely and early engagement with all stakeholders to empower them to own the programs from inceptions and beyond the funding window.

He challenged African governments to harness emerging technologies for the continent’s development by proactively involving foundations and the private sector.

Makinde revealed that the African Union High Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) has identified application of gene drive for control and elimination of malaria disease vector, application of drone technology for transforming Africa’s agriculture and promoting micro-grids for expanding access to energy in the continent.

Ruth Oniango, the winner of 2017 Africa Food Prize, challenged scientists to enrich their professional legacy by engaging directly with grassroots communities.

“Africa stands to emerge from a state of food deficiency to food surplus only if scientists engage with populations in rural areas where key staples are grown,” said Oniango.

The symposium is being held to help strengthen linkages between BioInnovate Africa and key science, technology and innovation policy and investment actors in the region, and to discuss a roadmap for an eastern Africa regional bioeconomy strategy. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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