JAN 2017 - Milling and Grain magazine

Page 54

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AFRICA INTRO: THE POWER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN PROVIDING QUALITY CROPS

by Clifford Spencer, Goodwill Ambassador, NEPAD

I have practically and directly worked with over 60 different species of crops in my lifetime. This has been achieved as a farmer, nucleus seed producer, commercial crop grower, on-farm miller and consumer of these crops either directly or through the farm livestock to which they have been fed. My farming family’s proud boast is that we provided the Royal Household of HM Queen Elizabeth with a Christmas Turkey when we won the UK national poultry show at Smithfield many, many years ago. We also broke yield and quality records for many of the crops that we grew on our farm. Our family farm also played host to many African visitors when I was a young boy and this harboured a long-term and growing interest in this huge continent, which is now an area of the world rapidly coming to the fore in global affairs and commercial developments. Seven of the top 10 performing economies in the world today are within the African continent. When I completed studying agriculture at university, my very first act upon returning to the family farm was to install an on-farm laboratory. Even in the UK, given it was the very early 1970s, this was an unusual on-farm facility. The laboratory was equipped for seed germination/vigour testing and grain analysis in terms of protein in cereals and oil content in oilseeds. So as I excitedly used my specialist Kjeldahl and Soxhlet apparatus I was at that time blissfully unaware in global terms of just how extraordinarily lucky I was in terms of the science and technology at my fingertips. This ability to analyse and immediately relate the laboratory results to the growing of the cereal and oilseed crops themselves proved to be real winner and as a result crop yield and quality constantly and rapidly improved. Also our grain produced proved to be extremely popular with millers and as a result always fetched a good price. That experience persuaded me very early on in my career of the power of science and technology in quality farming and food production and also its commercial benefits.

NEPAD is the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development

48 | January 2017 - Milling and Grain

ABOVE: This graphic shows the shear enormity of the African continent by showing how many other countries fit inside it. It covers the same surface as 13 countries including the United States, China and India - and the whole of Eastern Europe. The UK also features on the graphic - covering the island of Madagascar


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