The role of science, technology and innovation in improving economic development will be high on the agenda when African Heads of State meet in Addis Ababa for the 8th annual summit of the African Union (AU), January 22 – 30, 2007.
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) will contribute to the theme by providing displays and information about its 15 research centers at the Science Exhibition organized by the Economic Commission for Africa.
The CGIAR believes it has an important role to play in addressing these issues. According to the Director of the CGIAR, Francisco J.B. Reifschneider, the CGIAR’s mission is to “Harness the power of science and use it to help solve problems associated, in their many dimensions, with poverty, food security, environmental protection and economic growth”,
In West-Africa, CIFOR is putting dry forests back on the policy agenda. Dry forests are vital to the livelihoods of millions of West Africans, providing them with food, fodder fuelwood and more. With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), CIFOR is encouraging policy makers and donor communities to develop policies that more closely address the links between human well-being and dry forests.
In Central Africa, CIFOR scientists have been studying the role of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s) for more then 10 years. They discovered NTFP’s can play a big role in reducing poverty if the right measures are taken. In Cameroon, for example, bureaucratic difficulties such as informal taxes and uneven quotas prevent farmers and traders from getting the full benefit from their products. CIFOR is helping top resolve these issues through its researchers working with and advising relevant government agencies.
As CIFOR researcher Ousseynou Ndoye puts it, “We need a continuous policy dialogue that informs policy makers and donors of two key issues. First, the importance of policy recognizing the essential role forests play in the livelihoods of rural communities. And second, the importance of ensuring regional and national poverty reduction strategies and policies include forest products. And this policy dialogue must be based on sound knowledge and intelligent advice that comes from good science and research.”
Hopefully this message will come cross loud and clear at the heads of state meeting the 8th Annual Summit in Addis Ababa.