Science-based Improvements of Rural/Subsistance Agriculture
This forum on Science-based Improvements of Rural/Subsistence Agriculture is the first in a series that are being convened by the ASSAf Forum steering Committee on Science for Poverty Alleviation. During 2005, the Academy engaged in discussions with the Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and a number of officials of the Department regarding matters of national interest in the national system of innovation. The Director General indicated that studies by the Academy would be welcomed with a view to providing evidence-based advice that could guide policy development, since this was seen as one of the major roles that the Academy should fulfil in the future. The participants in that discussion identified Science for Poverty Alleviation as a broad general framework in which the Academy might initiate a number of studies. Early in 2006, the Council of the Academy agreed to the establishment of a Committee on Science-based Approaches to the Alleviation of Poverty and identified a number of members of the Academy who would be invited to be members of that committee that would take the matter forward on behalf of the Academy. Prof. Sagadevan Mundree was appointed chair of the committee and was instrumental in organising the forum. Workshops such as this one, operate in the ‘forum mode’, which is a system whereby the Academy brings together leading national and, where appropriate, international scholars in the field to assess the empirical evidence that can be used to illuminate solutions to the identified problem, especially those that will lead to the alleviation of poverty. The purpose of this workshop was to bring together a group of experts in the field of agricultural research and to help identify promising scientific and technological strategies for improving agricultural productivity and food security, specifically for small-scale farmers. The people who were invited to attend the forum were individually considered to be able to make a significant contribution to the topic under discussion. The outcome of the forum and the discussions that flowed from it shows that translation of that knowledge into practical recommendations is in many cases feasible and desirable for the improvement of agricultural productivity and food security.