AKST: Generation, Access, Adaptation, Adoption and Effectiveness | 51

stood. Countries have responded by developing biosafety policies and adhering to international agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol. Education on biosafety issues related to GMO testing is helping to address problems of risk assessment and management and strengthening regional policies and capacity.
12. Inadequate local trade, sporadic regional integration and inefficient market conditions adversely affect agriculture profits, investments and effective application of agricultural innovation. From 1980 to 2000, agricultural exports from SSA stagnated at 2% of the global market due to poor infrastructure, low production, noncompetitive, unskilled labor and heavy tariffs in external markets. Lack of credit and investment to expand agricultural production also contribute to low export figures.
13. Inadequate infrastructure for transportation and food processing, irrigation and information and communications technology (ICT) impede the effectiveness of formal AKST. These inadequacies result in lost economic opportunities for farmers and food industries. For example, the lack of food processing and storage facilities close to agricultural areas results in high input costs and low farm profits. This reduces the incentive for farmers to apply agricultural innovation and inhibits them from adopting market-oriented production approaches.
14. The development and use of ICT has the potential to increase access to formal and informal AKST, but realization of this potential has been uneven. Some countries in SSA have limited access to ICT because of restrictive policies, investment barriers, limited ICT coverage and socioeconomic barriers to Internet use. Disputes arising from cable ownership, fees and infrastructure threaten widespread access to the Internet.

3.1 Human Context

3.1.1 Human health and nutrition

Disease affects the availability of labor in SSA, particularly in the agricultural sector. With the exception of HIV/AIDS, the most significant diseases are water-borne: malaria, schistosomiasis and typhoid; others include onchocerciasis, cholera, dengue fever and guinea worm (UNESCO, 2003). The incidence of disease is high during the rainy season when farming activities peak, thus lowering food production and
availability and overall food security.
Malaria. The death burden from malaria is 15% in sub- Saharan Africa (Foster and Phillips, 1998), higher than in any other area of the tropics (Kiszewski and Teklehaymanot, 2004). Those most affected are women of reproductive age and children. In Africa, one in five childhood deaths is attributable to malaria (WHO, 2007). High malnutrition rates tend to increase child mortality from malaria.

Malaria epidemics are associated with wet seasons (that is pre-harvest) when household incomes are low (Malaney et al., 2004). Some environmental changes brought about by agricultural development have created more breeding grounds for the vector mosquito (Malakooti et al., 1998).


HIV/AIDS pandemic. An estimated 22.5 million people were living with AIDS in 2007 (AVERT, 2007), most of them residing in communities already suffering from poverty, malnutrition and other diseases. In infected individuals, HIV affects and is affected by nutrition. The consequences of HIV infection include reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food, changes in metabolism and a reduction in food intake due to HIV-related symptoms. Poor nutrition increases the vulnerability to, and the severity of opportunistic infections. It can also reduce the beneficial effects of medication and can accelerate the progression of the disease. The AIDS pandemic has serious implications for rural agricultural production and household food security, and is closely tied to gender concerns and policies (Du Guerny, 1999).

The impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production is observed through declining yields due to sickness and dependency on outside labor; reduction in land under cultivation; decline in crop variety, inputs and livestock production; and loss of local agricultural knowledge and skills because of the loss of knowledgeable family members. Food consumption among household survivors often declines after an adult member dies and the incidence of stunting increases among orphans. Household food security is frequently lower because of fostering children and caring for sick relatives (AVERT, 2007). Where land tenure and inheritance traditions favor males, the effect of HIV/AIDS on agriculture may be especially acute. Increased numbers of widowed women, whose right to land is already constrained by traditional inheritance customs, may lead to more land left uncultivated. All of these situations challenge economies that depend on agriculture (Mesko et al., 2003).

Impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural labor with respect to gender. Research conducted in Kenya shows that households experience a 68% decline in food production following the death of a male household head (USAID, 2003). Though women are largely responsible for agriculture production, household changes occur as the male head of household’s health declines. To cope with the financial burden of AIDS, assets are sold, loans go into default, household collateral decreases and the AIDS-affected households are deemed not creditworthy. In addition, there is a shift from cash to
subsistence crops during the household head’s illness as the family copes with the financial burden of AIDS. Upon the death of a male head of household, it is often impossible to resume cash crop production because the cash investment for inputs is no longer available.

In some places, following the death of the male head of household, relatives of the deceased may seize property from the widow, causing a decline in agricultural production. A study in Namibia found that 44% of widows lost cattle, 28% lost small livestock and 41% lost farm equipment through disputes with in-laws after the death of an HIV-infected husband (FAO, 1996). The effect on overall agricultural production may be nil if the resources seized from the household are in use elsewhere; however, the effect on the widow’s household can be severe.

Because women bear much of the responsibility for household food security, the impact of HIV/AIDS on women has acute consequences for other family members and for