by Mark Edge
I recently joined a large gathering at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in Nairobi, Kenya, to celebrate their tenth anniversary and achievements in managing 10 projects involving 10 countries in Africa. AATF accesses, develops, adapts and delivers appropriate agricultural technologies for sustainable use by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, through innovative partnerships.
As a Monsanto employee, I was there to share our appreciation and support for the work AATF does to manage the public private partnership we refer to as the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. AATF manages WEMA and the partnership project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and USAID. In addition to Monsanto, WEMA also includes the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the national agricultural research organizations in the five partner countries – Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
I was impressed and humbled by the scope and urgent importance of work being done by the dedicated and professional AATF staff. They’re tackling urgent and critical problems facing some of the poorest and least empowered farmers in Africa. AATF is bringing appropriate technologies to help fix problems like bacterial wilt in banana, aflatoxins in peanuts and maize, striga “vampire weed” control in maize, cassava mechanization, pod borer infestations in cowpea as well as drought tolerance in maize.
I met many wonderful people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and interests. The great thing in common was they were all passionate about helping empower farmers in Africa to achieve food security and improve their livelihoods with appropriate technology and sustainable farming practices. I was most encouraged by everyone’s welcoming attitude and openness to dialogue and collaboration. The AATF’s attitude of embracing collaboration and partnerships among all sectors with the common goal of improving farmer’s lives in Africa was contagious. I’m honored to know such good people, lucky to be able to work alongside them, and happy to help spread the contagious collaborative attitude.