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Delivery of Agricultural Technology to Resource-poor Farmers in Africa

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Recent developments in agricultural science and technology have the potential to transform the agricultural sector in the developing world. These technological advances constitute key drivers of economic growth and hold great promise for poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Agricultural research and development in Africa is undergoing a major paradigm shift. Until recently, public-sector institutions in Africa worked in isolation to create and disseminate agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers. However, they need access to improved proprietary technologies developed for the most part by the private sector in developed countries. These technologies are currently concentrated in the hands of a few large corporations and are protected by intellectual property rights. The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is a new initiative addressing the challenges associated with the access, development, and deployment of agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers in SSA. This article describes the AATF model of facilitating the creation of partnership alliances dedicated to promote and support collaboration among a wide variety of public- and private-sector organizations around shared agricultural research and development goals for the public good. It explains AATF's public–private partnership framework for technology delivery in the light of market failures, institutional constraints, and systemic weaknesses, which impede public-sector organizations from accessing and delivering pro-poor knowledge and technology to farmers. The article provides policy makers, research managers, and business decision makers with an understanding of how access to, and delivery of, proprietary technologies could contribute to food security and the improvement of farmers' livelihoods in Africa.
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Keywords: agricultural technology; biosafety regulation; freedom to operate; intellectual property management; public–private partnership; research for development; rural poverty

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya 2: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Giza, Cairo, Egypt 3: ATECHO and Associates, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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