Press Releases

                                                                                                                            28 June 2004

    Strategy Is Needed to Bring about Green Revolution in Africa, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Interacademy Council Report on African Agriculture

    NEW YORK, 25 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of opening remarks, as delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, at the launch today of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) report entitled “Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture:  Science and Technology Strategies for Improving Agricultural Productivity and Food Security in Africa”:

    I am delighted to welcome to the United Nations such a distinguished delegation from the InterAcademy Council.

    Above all, I am delighted that the Council -- which was created four years ago by a number of national academies around the world -- is already leaving its mark on the debate about critical issues facing our world today.

    Just last February, here at the United Nations, I had the honour to preside over the launch of the InterAcademy Council’s first report, “Inventing a Better Future”.

    That report was a blueprint for strengthening scientific capabilities in all regions of the world.

    Today, we are launching a more focused document, targeting a particular continent and a specific, urgent problem:  how to improve agricultural productivity and food security in Africa.

    Today millions of children, women, and men in Africa are malnourished and hungry.  A series of food crises on the continent has brought home to us the urgent need for a strategy to break the pattern of recurring crises and bring about a Green Revolution in Africa.  So far the only continent that has been bypassed by that revolution.

    To achieve this, we need to mobilize the best scientists the world has to offer.  That is why, two years ago, I asked the InterAcademy Council to come up with a strategic plan for harnessing the most promising science and technology to that mission.

    My challenge to the IAC was this:  In what concrete ways can the scientific community work with farmers, governments and industry to prevent famines and eliminate hunger for many millions of people in Africa?

    The InterAcademy Council, I’m pleased to say, has risen to the challenge.  The title of this report -- “Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture” -- underlines the prospects for the future.

    But it also makes clear that long-term approaches will be required, involving a broad array of African institutions and constituencies. 

    And it spells out the role of the international community -- the UN family, other international agencies and donors.  We must all do our best to translate the report’s recommendations into concrete actions. 

    We are privileged to have with us the Co-Chairs of the InterAcademy Council Study Panel which produced the report:  Dr. Speciosa Kazibwe, Dr. Rudy Rabbinge, and Dr. M.S. Swaminathan.  They will give us the highlights and tell us how they see the way forward.  I know that we will also be discussing this in Addis at the African Summit, at the AU (African Union) Summit, as part of a seminar on agriculture productivity in Africa.

    Let me now give the floor to Mr. Mark Malloch-Brown, who will moderate the proceedings.

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