Alice: Hello, I’m Alice.
Yvonne: And I’m Yvonne.
Alice: And this is 6 Minute English! And in today’s programme we’re talking about farming in Africa.
Yvonne: The study of farming is called agriculture.
Alice: This is a new look at agriculture in Africa – how one expert – a Harvard Professor thinks Africa could change from being an importer of food to an exporter in one generation.
Yvonne: In one generation – that’s usually a period of about 20 to 30 years. The time it takes for someone to become an adult.
Alice: In his book ‘The New Harvest’, Professor Calestous Juma says Africa could become self-sufficient in terms of growing food within one generation. But before we find out more, can you explain what a staple crop is?
Yvonne: Sure. A staple crop is a plant that is grown for food and it’s considered to be the most important part of a country’s diet.
Alice: So like rice or corn. And my question is about the country Professor Calestous Juma comes from originally – Kenya. Which of these is a staple crop in Kenya?
Yvonne: I think I’m going for maize because I know that is something that’s used in other countries in Africa.
Alice: Well, we’ll find out at the end of the programme. Now let’s see how Professor Juma thinks Africa could become food secure.
Yvonne: Food secure – that’s self-sufficient in terms of food.
Alice: He believes that leaders in Africa need to make agriculture a top priority. And he says that the modernisation of agriculture is the responsibility of African Presidents. Let’s listen to what he says:
Insert 1: Professor Calestous Juma
I think the most important message is for them to recognise that agriculture and the economy for Africa are one and the same. And that is the responsibility of an African president
to modernise the economy and that means essentially starting with the modernisation of agriculture. And that they should stick with it and not hand it over to departmental (government) ministries.
Alice: Agriculture and economy are one and the same.
Yvonne: One and the same – a phrase which means they are identical. They are the same – here that the economy in Africa is completely dependent on agriculture.
Alice: The BBC’s Science Reporter Neil Bowdler says Professor Juma is thinking big.
Yvonne: Thinking big – he has large ambitions.
Alice: He believes it’s a question of political will.
Yvonne: Political will – if politicians want to make something happen, they will.
Insert 2: BBC’s Science Reporter Neil Bowdler
Professor Juma can’t be accused of not thinking big. He says that with land and labour abundant, Africa shouldn’t be a hungry importer of food, but a major exporter. He says it’s all a question of political will.
Alice: Juma can’t be accused of not thinking big.
Yvonne: That’s true. He says Africa has abundant land and labour.
Alice: Abundant – lots of, lots of land to grow crops on and lots of labour – lots of people to work on farms.
Yvonne: But what about the detail of how this can happen? Large areas of Africa’s land are desert or suffer from drought.
Alice: According to Neil Bowdler, Juma has a wish list.
Yvonne: A wish list – a list of things he would like to happen. What are they?
Alice: He wants to boost investment in roads – to carry crops and machines from place to place.
Yvonne: Boost investment – increase the amount of money put into agriculture. What else?
Alice: To boost investment in irrigation.