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Insights: Africa's future... can biosciences contribute?


By 2050 the world's population will rise to 9 billion. To satisfy demand, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has predicted that food production will need to increase by 70 per cent. Meanwhile, land and water resources are increasingly being degraded and depleted, which has serious implications for developing countries, and in particular for the African continent. These are huge challenges, but one possible solution is for farmers to combine their expert local knowledge with recent advances in biosciences.


New short essays looking at the implementation of biosciences for farming in Africa.

Viewpoints: Africa's future … can bioscience help? Complete pdf New

  1. Can a growing world feed itself without genetically modified crops?
    Sir Brian Heap FRS
  2. New plant breeding techniques: prospects for the future
    Professor Dr Joachim Schiemann
  3. Agricultural delivery systems: some options for East Africa
    Johanna Nesseth Tuttle
  4. From aid to trade – the African elephant in the room
    Dr David Bennett
  5. Golden Rice: a long-running story at the watershed of the GM debate
    Dr Adrian Dubock
  6. African Orphan Crops Consortium – a NEPAD-led initiative
    Professor Diran Makinde
  7. The great misunderstanding of the global food crisis
    Dr Philipp Aerni
  8. Victoria Seeds - Changing lives through wealth creation
    Josephine Okot
  9. Will trade barriers prevent the adoption of genetically modified crops in Africa?
    John Komen and David Wafula
  10. Enhancing resistance to coffee wilt disease in Uganda - the conventional way
    Dr Africano Kangire
  11. Changing the lives of smallholder farmers – a personal journey
    Paul Seward
  12. Why I changed my mind about biotechnology for African countries
    Michael J. Ssali
  13. Knowledge sharing and the role of farmers New
    Mariechel J. Navarro and Randy A. Hautea
  14. Genetically modified crops: how long before Africa sees its share of the gains? New
    Graham Brookes
  15. Better seeds, better yields New
    Tinashe Chiurugwi and Sean Butler

The 18 short essays in Insights were commissioned to examine the implementation of biosciences for farming in Africa ( The essays are eclectic and personal, sharply focused and intended to inform decision-makers whether relaxing on long-haul flights, or in deepest deliberation with colleagues. They do not advocate a position, rather they argue from experience, and offer an authoritative, independent and peer-reviewed brief. All address the grand challenge facing the best brains and entrepreneurs alike, whether in laboratories, farms, in businesses or partnerships – how will we be able to produce 70 per cent more food sustainably, sufficient to feed a predicted population of 9 billion in 2050.


Brian Heap and David Bennett

Biosciences in Africa's economic transformation
Calestous Juma (Kenya, USA)

The right to food in a changing world
Phil Bloomer (UK)

Seed: hope for smallholder farmers?
Joe DeVries (Kenya)

Can the supply of quality seed match demand?
Dannie Romney, Roger Day, Daniel Karanja and Niels Louwars (Kenya, Netherlands)

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub
Segenet Kelemu (Kenya)

Training for the future of food security
Eric Yirenkyi Danquah (Ghana)

Biofortified sorghum: lessons for biotechnology
Florence Wambugu (Kenya)

Achieving water efficiency with maize
Denis T. Kyetere, Sylvester O. Oikeh and Grace Wachoro (Kenya)

Where will the water come from?
Nick Moon (Kenya)

South Africa: an early adopter of GM crops
Jennifer A. Thomson (South Africa)

Biotechnology and small-scale farmers: an industry viewpoint
Julian Little (UK)

Private-sector R&D, supply chains and the small farmer
Marco Ferroni (Switzerland)

SABIMA: an initiative for safe and high-quality GM crops
Walter S. Alhassan (Ghana)

Preparing youth for high-tech agriculture
Margaret Karembu (Kenya)

Risks to biodiversity: real or imaginary?
Ghillean T. Prance (UK)

Hazards and benefits of GM crops: a case study
David Baulcombe (UK)

Do patents hold up progress in food security?
Sean Butler (UK)

Genetically modified crops: a moral imperative?
Jürgen Mittelstrass (Germany)

Brian Heap and David Bennett

Insights: Africa's future … can bioscience help?
Complete pdf.

Printed copies can be ordered through Earthprint:
Hardback edition £20/US$30 (plus packing and postage)
Paperback edition £10/US$15 (plus packing and postage)

To learn more about B4FA, see