NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Africa Could Become a Food Exporter

July 11, 2003

The key to economic development in Africa is agriculture, says Norman E. Borlaug, professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Fortunately, we have the economic and technological means to bring about an agricultural revolution. Using proven agricultural techniques, Africa could easily double or triple the yields of most of its crops. It has the potential not only to feed itself but even to become a dynamic agricultural exporter within a few decades, says Burlaug.

Biotechnology absolutely should be part of African agricultural reform; African leaders will be making a grievous error if they turn their backs on it.

  • Zambia's president notoriously barred shipments of food aid from America last year that included genetically modified corn.
  • Genetic technology can help produce plants with greater tolerance of insects and diseases, improve the nutritional quality of food staples and help farmers to expand the areas they cultivate.
  • Rather than looking to European leaders, who have demonized biotechnology, African leaders ought to work to manage and regulate this technology for the benefit of their farmers and citizens.

Lest we forget, helping African agriculture to prosper is not merely a humanitarian issue, it's a matter of enlightened self-interest. Smallholder African farmers, after all, are stewards of one of the earth's major land masses. Aiding African farmers will not only save lives, it will also, in a uniquely literal sense, help to save the earth, explains Burlaug.

Source: Norman E. Borlaug, "The Next Green Revolution," New York Times, July 11, 2003.


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