Call for sustainable and diversified production
In an interview, IITA Deputy Director General for Research for Development, Ylva Hillbur, reiterated that drought tolerant crops would be extremely important in countries facing the effects of climate change like Zambia.
“You also need to diversify and have different varieties of cash crops such as legumes, cowpeas and integrate cassava. We need to move away from subsistence farming to growing of cash crops. We also need to diversify our eating habits in view of climate change,” she said.
She urged delegates to use the forum as an opportunity to share experiences and information relevant for the promotion of sustainable and increased production, processing and marketing of grain legumes especially in Africa.
“As you do so, please remember that by 2050 the world population will have increased to nine billion and the three quarters of that population will be living in cities and demanding more food, particularly foods with proteins. As a result of rapid urbanization, Africa’s urban population will have grown threefold by 2040. This means that less and less people shall be in rural areas to grow food.”
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Program Officer Jeff Ehlers said in an interview that his organization supported the hosting of the conference because it was key in uplifting the lives of smallholder farmers.
“With respect to this conference which represents all grain legumes research in Southern Africa, there is a good part of the international community and this will provide exchange of information,” added Ehlers.