By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

There is a clear need for a new vision for agricultural development in Africa that can deal with the complexities of agriculture in diverse settings across Africa and meet the conditions necessary to achieve more equitable benefits for Africa’s farmers. Kofi Annan will chair a conference beginning on Wednesday this week organised by STEPS Centre affiliate the Future Agricultures Consortium in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar, asking whose vision should this be? How can complexity and diversity be dealt with? What can be learned from the impacts – positive and negative – of the “green revolutions” in Latin America and Asia?

The “Toward a ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa” conference, subsequent seminar and regional meetings in Africa will ask what lessons can be extracted from recent successes in African agricultural development and how can recent growth be sustained, expanded, and accelerated?

How can new investments and actors in African agriculture support efforts to align policies and political processes to support agricultural as well as broader development goals? How can innovation systems be made robust, relevant and sustainable? How can the hardware of science and technology be linked to the software of institutions, policy and social dynamics? How should agricultural science and technology in Africa be governed?

Held at Austria’s famous Schloss Leopoldskron, the conference will lay the groundwork for the broader initiative and goals described above by bringing together diverse stakeholders, from within Africa and beyond, who are experts in their areas, leading thinkers, change-makers and are, or can influence, senior decision-makers.

Around 60 participants from predominantly African government, business, academia, and non-governmental organisations will explore a set of issues of vital concern to the future of agriculture in Africa, and to Africa’s development agenda. This group will be asked to devise the conceptual framework within which a new agricultural development agenda in Africa can be set and implemented, and to recommend specific actions.

Ideas and recommendations for policy adjustments, streamlining practice, and creating strategic alliances will be captured and reviewed to identify points of agreement and priority issues for action.

We will be blogging from the conference this week here on The Crossing, highlighting the ideas and themes that are discussed and posting all the relevant links. In the meantime, for some background on the issues at hand, have a look at the Future Agricultures Consortium’s work, and a piece on the current food shortage crisis from the Institute of Development Studies.