Buenos Aires/Nairobi — Argentina has agreed to extend its collaboration on agricultural technology transfer with nine Sub-Saharan African countries in areas of special interest for each.
Nine separate deals were signed during the second meeting of Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers in Argentina last month (20-23 August).
Representatives of Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan and Zambia signed the agreements.
Argentina's government "had been working with these countries on cooperation and technological transfer as part of its policy to seek new markets for Argentine products", the ministry spokesperson tells SciDev.Net.
The first ministerial meeting took place in April 2011, and, in addition, Argentina has received delegates from Africa seeking collaboration on technology transfer, and has sent its own technical missions to Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, before the current raft of agreements, according to the ministry.
Argentina will now transfer technological knowledge and provide assistance, especially in the areas of rural development, biotechnology, seeding techniques, small-scale agriculture, plant and animal health, and rural extension programmes, whereby new knowledge is applied to agricultural practices through farmer education.
The work will aim to improve crop yields, the efficiency of water and energy use, and the conservation of natural resources, according to a press release from Argentina's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
"Argentina is positioned as a leading country in science, technology, biotechnology and genetics," Norberto Yauhar, Argentina's minister of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, tells SciDev.Net.
The next steps will be to establish bilateral work programmes to identify priority areas and actions, including research projects and the exchange of technical information, says Yauhar.
"We aim to create a space for approaching the private sector in each country in order to increase bilateral trade flows and the presence of each country's companies in various markets. We also hope to expert exchange missions in order to identify areas where technical assistance is needed to increase agricultural sustainability," he says.
He adds that each country has its own particular interests, which the individual deals reflect.
For example, Nigeria's main focuses are on livestock and grain technology. For Senegal, the agreement is linked to research in agriculture such as technological advances in tillage, crop rotation, biotechnology and precision farming; as well as biotechnology and genetic improvement for livestock.
Felix Koskei, Kenya's cabinet secretary for agriculture, livestock and fisheries, who represented the country at the meeting, says Kenya hoped to gain from Argentina's expertise in livestock, especially in fighting cattle diseases.
"Kenya has for many years worked with Argentina in trying to come up with a long-life vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease and we want to work on this even more closely," says Koskei.
"The available foot-and-mouth vaccine gives protection to an animal for about four months forcing farmers to have to vaccinate their cattle as many as three times a year, but we think with expertise from Argentina's more advanced vaccine-production laboratories we can make good advances," he adds.
Kenya, he says, is also seeking to promote fish farming and better management existing fisheries resources by tapping into Argentina's knowledge and technology.