As a boy growing up on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, Harvard international development professor Calestous Juma noticed a thing or two about innovations designed to bring more food into his community. He noticed, for instance, that the fishermen were always tinkering with new ways to trap fish while his father, a carpenter, would build the traps.
That childhood curiosity helped lead Juma down a path to prominence as an international authority on applying science and technology to sustainable development, including work with the United Nations (UN) and the African Union. Now he is looking ahead to intensifying food production sustainably. “The rising concern over the impact of climate change on agriculture will significantly shape the way Africa approaches agriculture,” Juma says. “It is no longer possible to rely on folk knowledge as the key guide for farming.”
As part of his work, Juma advises high-level leaders, especially African presidents, on the role of technology in agriculture. “I am guided by the view that the application of science and technology to agriculture requires extensive coordination across many actors and sectors,” he says. “It is essentially a political process, and political leadership is essential.”
But ultimately, says Juma, he prefers a role in which he can help explain to Africa’s leaders the importance of science and technology, rather than advocating for one kind of innovation over another. Policy-making, he says, is a learning process.
Read the full, original article: The politics of food technology innovation for Africa