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September 24, 2012

Yet another African green revolution talk shop scheduled for Tanzania

If committment to solving a problem could be measured by the number of conferences devoted to it, Africa would have had countless 'green revolutions' in the last few decades. The continent would be bursting with crop surpluses, causing all kinds of economic and other 'revolutions.'

Alas, talk is cheap but translating it into action, not so easy.

The Bill and Melinda Gates-funded Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is organizing a meeting for September 26 to 28 in Arusha, Tanzania.

While controversial and hotly debated, AGRA has practical projects underway in several countries. But whether yet another talk shop dominated by besuited bureaucrats (i.e. there will be few or no actual farmers in sight) adds anything at all to its efforts is debatable.

The usual formula of such conferences is of like-minded people re-enforcing and validating each others' views, ignoring or disparaging critical voices and generally congratulating themselves (awards) on how they 'get it' and nobody else does. Will this event be any different from the typical conferences put on by all shades of agricultural ideologues?

The listed topics of discussion have all been addressed in hundreds of previous conferences by an alphabet soup of organizations over the years. It will be interesting to see what new pearls of wisdom might emerge from this latest talk shop.

Not to worry though. Some positive results are guaranteed. The views around beautiful, scenic Arusha will be breathtaking as always, there will be much friendly backslapping and networking, and the beer and wine are likely to be well chilled. A good time will no doubt be had by all.

African Agriculture   

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