The Sasakawa-Global (SG 2000) programme in Africa marked its 20th anniversary with an international symposium in Mali's capital Bamako, on 31 October and 1 November, aimed at developing a roadmap to encourage smallholder farmiers Africa to become efficient commercial farmers.
The emergence of a progressive and prosperous smallholder commercial class--the foundation for the future of African agriculture--is a Sasakawa-Global (SG) 2000 objective for the next four years as it concentrates its resources on four African countries--Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Uganda.
SG 2000 had its origins during the Ethiopian famine of 1984/85 when the Japanese philanthropist, the late Ryoichi Sasakawa, mobilised funds to send emergency food aid to Ethiopia and other stricken countries in the region. But he also saw that, in Asia, the advent of high-yielding rice and wheat varieties, in combination with fertiliser use and improved agronomic practices, had overcome periodic famines and set many nations on a path towards agricultural productivity-led development.
He brought together Dr Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and father of the Green Revolution in India and Pakistan in the 1960s, and ex-President Jimmy Carter of the US, who was also deeply concerned about Africa's food crisis, to examine the problem.
Norman Borlaug concluded that the knowledge and improved agricultural technologies needed to expand Africa's food production were available but were not reaching the millions of smallholder farmers who grew most of Africa's food--mainly in nutrient deficient soils. So was born SG 2000--a partnership between the Sasakawa Africa Association, which serves as the lead management organisation in Africa, and Global 2000 of the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta. The programme was funded, from its onset, by the Nippon Foundation of Japan (then the Japan Shipbuilding Industries Foundation)--now chaired by Ryoichi Sasakawa's son, Yohei.
SG 2000's first food crop technology transfer projects were established in Ghana and Sudan in 1986. Then--as now--the focus was Africa's small-scale farmers dramatically increasing their yields of staple food crops. Since that time, as a direct result of SG 2000 projects in 14 African countries, millions of farmers across the continent have doubled, and sometimes tripled, their yields of staple food crops.
Throughout its 20-year history, SG 2000 has worked mainly with, and through, ministries of...