Tech transfer: Expert seeks stronger collaboration among key players

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By Sylvester Thompson

Prof. Olalekan Akinbo of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA –NEPAD), called for stronger collaboration among key players in the agricultural food chain for transfer of agri -food technologies.

He made the call in a panel discussion on how policymakers and international institutions can seize the opportunity to incentivize and support the transfer of agri-food technologies.

The event, which was held in Rome and monitored via webinar, had the theme: ”Developing and Deploying Agri-Food and Climate Tech Innovations: The Role of Technology Transfer”.

Akinbo expressed optimism that when key players in the agricultural ecosystem, including policy makers forged stronger ties in technology transfer, sustainable development goals would be achieved.

The Supervisor at the Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation said in forging such cooperation, considering who should be the top beneficiary wasn’t important, rather, what was paramount was achieving zero hunger.

He maintained that a workable policy was also an attribute of a good ecosystem where key players come together to drive the process towards a successful attainment of set goals.

“When this is achieved, policy that is now a bottleneck would translate to food security,’’ he said.

Akinbo stressed on the need for elements of transparency in regards to policy, while re-iterating the convening mandate of the AUDA-NEPAD in bringing together member states to ensure proper policy alignment.

He recalled that putting policies in place for agriculture in order to get some commitment from member states, dated back to 2014 during the Malabo declaration where Heads of States of the African Union met.

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Accordingly, he said this meeting was also in relation to Africa’s agricultural transformation and food security agenda which targeted zero hunger.

He argued that innovation components were working in member states, citing traditional research carried out in genome editing as an example, categorizing the technology as one that speaks to the needs of the people.

However, he insisted on the imperative of industries appreciating the technology to make it workable, while stressing, ”if industries fail to see the benefits in spite of the huge investments, it may fail to work.”

Akinbo also enumerated how policy makers could help scale up to the next stage.

“Innovation isn’t innovation until it is scalable,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in Africa, access to improved technologies and innovations across the entire food systems value chain remains slow.

As a result of this, Africa’s agricultural and food industry becomes uncompetitive in the global markets.

NAN also reports that adoption of technologies in Africa stands a little above 35 per cent and still far less than the potential.

The organisers of the panel discussion event stated that in recent decades, the global challenges related to food insecurity and the impact of climate change have grown increasingly urgent.

This compelled organizations, scientists, and innovators to develop revolutionary solutions in the form of agri-tech and climate-smart innovations.

Delgermaa Chuluunbaater, Agricultural Research Officer, FAO, questioned why there should be lack of adoption of agri-technologies and lack of investment in research android development.

She said the concept had been promoted from five to ten years ago and was successfully tested in different countries.

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Daniel Adeniyi, Policy Officer, Sustainable Food Systems, European Centre for Development and Policy Management, said tech transfer was a controversial issue, adding that there was not enough commitment.

He corroborated Akinbo by urging for stronger ties, and concrete actions while stating that businesses should also take care of tech transfer by helping to set the agenda.

Gladys Morales, Senior Officer Global/Head of Innovation, Change, Delivery and Innovation Unit, IFAD, another panelist, spoke about scaling up which she said was also about financing.

Morales said the concept of capacity sharing and building was very relevant and the focus should be on improving the lives of rural people who were less likely to use mobile internet.

Marie Brueser, Corporate Venture Manager, European Institute of Innovation and Technology (ETI)Food, said start-ups needed agri-tech transfer and putting facilities in place was a necessity, while also hinting on connectivity and capacity sharing.

Akinbo, Chuluunbaatar, Adeniyi,Morales, Brueser and Francesco Rampa who made up the second panel, agreed that policies should target key actors.

They said this was a prerequisite to avoid funds ending up in wrong hands.

The panelists also saw need to scale up start -ups among other ideas brought to the table.

The discussion consisted of two panels; the first panelists discussed how technology transfer can unlock the potential for impact of early stage agri-food innovation.

Both panels, among other summations, stressed on the importance of collaborations and networks.

The event was hosted by Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT of CGIAR and Co-organized by ECDPM, LVenture Group, and CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani

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