The African Green Revolution Forum underway in Accra has in a session titled “Norman Borlaug Celebration: Joint Session with the World Food Prize Foundation and Sasakawa Global 2000” celebrated the achievements of the father of the green revolution and discussed the progress of the green revolution for Africa.
Session speakers ranged from distinguished scholars, practitioners and World Food Prize Laureates. They took turns to extol the virtues of Norman Borlaug and his work for the Green Revolution.
In his opening address Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo described the life and work of Norman Borlaug. He described Mr. Borlaug as a man of passion saying that “his works with the Rockefeller foundation, World Food Prize, Sasakawa Global 2000 were all done with great passion”. Mr. Obasanjo went on to say that “if Norman was here he would have said improved seed is not enough; with it must go fertilizer, market, infrastructure and micro credit”. He ended by saying that the forum’s plan of action must have a timeline, “so that we are not just meeting every year to talk”, he added.
Similar sentiments were shared by other speakers when asked by the Chairman for the session asked “what would Norman have said if he was here”. Gebisa Ejata, Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University and World Food Prize Laureate 2009 also said that “Norman was a decent human being who dedicated himself to promoting the course of humanity”. He went on by saying that “Norman’s recognition of national policies and strengthening local institutions to empower local people was what made him different”, not his work.
Another World Food Prize Laureate, Monty Jones who is Execute Director for FARA also described Norman as always ahead of his time in terms of the his extraordinary analysis of the food security situation. He continued to say that if Norman was here, he will be telling Africans to look for visionary and inspiration Agricultural leaders that can affect change. He recommended that technology should be embedded in innovation and innovation embedded in the wider development agenda in Africa.
Speaking from scientific point of view, Rudy Rabbinge, Chairman, CGIAR Science Council said Africa should be creating and retaining a new generation of African Agricultural Scientists. He entreated all stakeholders to “make best use of all scientific knowledge available to leapfrog the present situation” and said the encouragement was that there is a farely good and strong political environment in Africa. He recommended that within the next ten years, Africa must not only be self sufficient but a net exporter of Agricultural products.
Gary Toenniessen, Managing Director of Rockefeller Foundation also described Norman Borlaug as one who believed in that young African scientists are brilliant and need strong institutions and opportunities to achieve development of technologies for agriculture.
Florence Wambugu, President for Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International who spoke from a gender perspective said that Norman Borlaug was the strongest advocate of Agricultural technologies and support for women and young girls in Agriculture. She ended by saying that “if Norman was here, he would be telling us to look at the value-chain” emphasizing on how we can inspire and involve women.