Wednesday, October 27, 2021

AABNF gathering ends with resounding resolutions

Some five resolutions to be considered by stakeholders, including governments, marked the recently ended 17th African Association for Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) gathering in Gaborone.

One of the resolutions indicates that: “With the rapid change in atmospheric temperature and low amount of rainfall, African governments should look at promoting Research and Development (R+D) in pulses (legume plants-beans/peas species) which provide nutritious food for the growing population. 

The process of biological nitrogen fixation is a green technology whose carbon footprint is low compared to the use of chemical fertilisers. Furthermore, the use of pulses on pasture legumes has potential to reduce pest infestation by increasing natural enemies of pests.

The participants resolved that, given that 2016 has been declared by the United Nations (UN) as the International Year of Pulses and the grain yields of these crops are low in farmers’ fields in Africa due to poor soil and natural resource management, African governments should increase R+D investment for such production. 

The other resolution is that with increased R+D investment, the AABNF community should develop early-maturing, high yielding and drought tolerant legumes against climate change. These pulses can be used as food for nutritional security, given that they are rich in protein, low in cholesterol, high in dietary fibre and minerals needed for fighting non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and cancer.

Participants also resolved that in keeping with the Maputo Declaration of committing 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for research, and given the high number of ageing research scientists in Africa, the AABNF community must achieve capacity building for young scientists for Africa. 

Finally, considering the high temperatures and drought associated with climate change in sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, the AABNF community resolved to select and identify smart, drought tolerant, high yielding varieties of pulses for meeting the challenges of food security. 

The organisers were satisfied that young and talented scientists are making contributions in legume science and farming systems in Africa – efforts that shall contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs) and the Malabo Declaration for attaining food security by 2025. 

The resolutions go down well with what a consultative workshop suggested prior to the Conference of Parties (COP) held in Paris, France, in December 2015. 

It was noted that water abstraction was unaffordable by most rural farmers. It was also noted that in agriculture there was a problem of increasing Green House Gases rather than reducing them. Hence the workshop recommended that there should be improved livestock diet inclusion as a mitigation measure. 

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