To many, the difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas but in escaping from old ones. Albert Einstein says that we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. It is therefore paramount to rethink and embrace ingenuity in coming up with food security solutions in Africa. The role of agricultural innovation in creating food security in Africa immeasurable.
Personally, I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail and so is true if one employs the same kind of thinking in the face of a myriad of challenges. There is need to employ a variety of innovations in order to analyze and address each of the unique challenges facing us uniquely. The African continent is inimitable to any other in terms of its resources and agricultural potential. Given its vast agricultural lands, this continent can not only feed her people and ensure food security, but also be a major play¬er in the global food markets, a fact that was acknowledged by the African Union by making agriculture one of the pillars of the New Part¬nership for African Development (NEPAD) 10 years ago. However, agriculture is faced by a myriad of challenges that have constricted it from taking its rightful position in the defense against hunger and poverty in Africa, challenges that are mainly a product of our mannerism and attitude in farming and can be addressed by simply innovating.
Despite the central position the agricultural sector is supposed to play on the continent, those perpetuating it have done so without ingenuity and in a manner that has led to land degradation, poor yields, loss of agricultural lands, insufficient financial investment and low technological advancement in the sector notwithstanding other natural challenges. Agriculture is still practiced using traditional methods despite the evolving agricultural challenges; the sector has been starved of technology despite the need for technologies that will increase productivity to meet the continent’s food demands and despite the youths staying clear of farming for the way it is conducted and their attitude, the ways for which it is detested have been maintained and nothing is being done to change their attitude.
To this end, it is clear these challenges cannot be addressed by maintaining the status quo. There is need to do things differently and come up with innovative techniques that will make farming attractive enough for the youth, come up with relevant technologies that will lead to efficiency and increase in farm productivity and maintain agriculture at par with its changing environment. Agricultural innovation will result in impressive yield gains and lower food prices. The rate of increase of the food supply will accommodate both individual consumption growth and population growth despite little expansion of cropland and thus food security.
We therefore need to rethink our food security strategy and innovate. As Lawsin put it, the opposite of a problem would likely be the correct solution. Think differently.