Friday, 2 May 2008

SALZBURG DAY 2: INNOVATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS FOR WHOM?

By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

There was much talk across the group and plenary sessions about the importance of coordination and alignment of initiatives and institutions. This is happening under the leadership of the AU-NEPAD CAADP initiative, but needs to be strengthened. Photos: Delgates debate in Salzburg / Julia Day

Such coordination and partnership is critical to the African Green Revolution, and needs alliances between the public and private sector, the conference heard. In the African context markets need states and states need markets. There is a need to enhance facilitation and coordination to make markets work effectively for poverty reduction. The basic enabling environment – infrastructure, research and development, irrigation – needs to be put in place; and this requires governments to take a lead.

However, even with all these efforts is Africa still missing opportunities? Marginalised and vulnerable stakeholders, especially female farmers, are still under-represented throughout institutional processes.

Barriers such as the digital divide, low literacy and a perceived absence of articulated demands contribute to the persistent exclusion. But it was argued that this last reason is unjustified, since there are plenty of examples of how informal, grassroots organisations

are setting up innovative systems and processes, such as intra-regional trade systems, which a lot of learning can be taken from. Informal institutions can make a difference in an African Green Revolution, delegates agreed.

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