25 Years

Exploring African Agricultural Futures

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:00pm to Fri, 11/10/2017 - 12:00pm
Event Location: 
120 Anderson Library


Exploring African Agricultural Futures
African Studies Initiative Public Symposium
co-sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change,
Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, and UMN Extension Global Initiatives
November 9-10, 2017
120 Elmer L. Andersen Library
University of Minnesota
The African Studies Initiative (ASI) will convene a public symposium on Exploring African Agricultural Futures, November 9-10, 2017, in 120 Elmer L. Andersen Library (West Bank) at the University of Minnesota.  The Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, and UMN Extension Global Initiatives are co-sponsoring the event.  We are delighted to welcome a distinguished group of speakers from the worlds of research, policy, and practice in Africa, Europe, and the United States.  See this flyer

 for details.

Dr. Paul RichardsEmeritus Professor of Technology and Agrarian Development, Wageningen University (Netherlands) / Advisor to the Directorate of Research and Planning, Njala University (Sierra Leone), will give a keynote address 

at 3:00 pm Friday, November 10on "The African Experimenting Farmer: Marginalized but Necessary in an Era of Global Climatic Change.


Africa faces many different agricultural futures, with some receiving more donor and institutional attention than others.  Most prominent of these in recent years has been the new Green Revolution for Africa, which is being promoted by mainstream development agencies, the Gates Foundation, African state actors, and multinational agribusiness firms.  From their various vantage points--admittedly not homogenous--these new Green Revolution advocates often see in commercial farming and the introduction of exogenous agricultural technologies (including hybrid seeds, pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers) the promise of higher crop yields that can feed growing African populations; an opportunity to substantially reduce African smallholder poverty and rural malnutrition; the possibility of countering crises such as famine and drought and their human toll in hunger and starvation; and a means of promoting economic self-sufficiency of the continent.  Simultaneously, some agroecologists, social scientists, historians, and NGO representatives harbor deep concerns about this approach.  They argue that increasing farmer dependency on external inputs, commercial credit, and markets will expose smallholders to untenable economic, agronomic, and nutritional risks while also privileging those with the greatest access to resources.  While not univocal, the latter group contends that approaches rooted in local agricultural and ecological knowledges, technologies, and systems are far more likely to improve rural food security, nutrition, and environmental sustainability for the smallholding farming systems that have historically fed the continent.  

We take as points of departure the importance of enhancing the economic and nutritional well-being of African smallholder farmers; the very serious issue of environmental sustainability; and questions of gender equity.  This symposium will explore the implications, viability, and risks of diverse approaches to African agricultural futures, generating productive conversations and new ideas.

Click here for program

We warmly encourage faculty and other educators, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and community members to join us!  

A full program is forthcoming.  Questions? asi@umn.edu