Public Seminar: History matters – Implication for Agricultural Research for Development in Southern Africa

This seminar will be available online via Zoom or in person in the Frank Fenner Seminar Room at the ANU.

After having worked with African small farmers for seven years and found them hard working, innovative and eager to adapt new technologies and practices, we inadvertently asked our self the questions: ‘why is agricultural production in Africa still underperforming other regions of the world, why does irrigation schemes continue to fail and be underutilized, and why does food insecurity persist and even increase?’.

We wondered, if this have to do with something inherent to Africa or does it largely have to do with historical external influences? We found it critical to find the answers to these questions to better design research for development projects that will result in sustainable change and improved livelihoods for Africans. These questions led us to emerge ourselves into extensive bodies of historical literature. In this presentation we will provide a brief overview of our historical findings and put emphasis on the implications of these findings for future Agricultural research for development projects.

About the speakers

Henning Bjornlund is a Research Professor in Water Policy and Management at University of South Australia. From 2005 to 2015 he also held a Canada Research Chair in Water policy and Management and shared his time between South Australia and Alberta. Since 2013 he has worked on a Research for Development project funded by ACIAR and lead by ANU, Transforming Small-scale Irrigation in Southern Africa. He has also served on the board of the International Water Resources Association since 2013 and is currently chair of the Science, Technology and Publication Committee.