Recommended Technologies

The report describes approximately 60 technological tools that could help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to increase agricultural productivity and reduce poverty.

Out of these, it focuses on eighteen technologies with great potential to improve agricultural productivity in the two regions. In general, the technologies identified with great potential impact are those that help to: (1) manage the natural resource base supporting agriculture (especially soil and water); (2) improve the genetic profile of crops and animals; (3) reduce biotic constraints (such as disease, pests, and weeds); and (4) provide affordable, renewable energy for farmers.

Priority Technologies Recommended for Development and Exploration

Focus of Technology Tier I: High Priority for Development* Tier II: High Priority for Additional Exploration**
Natural Resource Management
  • Soil management techniques
  • Integrated water management
  • Climate and weather prediction
  • Soil-related nanomaterials
  • Manipulation of the rhizosphere
  • Remote sensing of plant physiology
Improving Genetics of Crops and Animals
  • Annotated crop genomes
  • Genome-based animal breeding
  • Site-specific gene integration
  • Spermatagonial stem cell transplantation
  • Microbial genomics of the rumen
Overcoming Biotic Constraints
(pests, weeds, diseases)
  • Plant-mediated gene silencing
  • Biocontrol and biopesticides
  • Disease suppressive soils
  • Animal vaccines
Energy Production   —
  • Solar energy technologies
  • Energy storage technology
  • Photosynthetic microbe-based biofuels

*Tier I tools and technologies are those that should be given the highest priority for development into specific applications in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia today. These technologies largely already exist and have been proven successful, but they are new from the perspective of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because applications specific to the needs of farmers in these regions have not been developed or widely used.

**Tier II technologies include ideas that are emerging from advances in many fields that are considered a high priority for additional exploration. In concept, applications based on these technologies would have a great deal to offer farmers in the two regions. However, these technologies are not yet fully developed, so applications cannot be built based on them at this stage. Additional exploration is needed to determine their feasibility and how they could be implemented in the two regions.

Full List of Technologies Examined in the Study

  • Annotated sequences of crop and model species for comparative genomics
  • DNA marker development
  • Mutation breeding and mutant analysis
  • Rapid sequencing and annotation of crops of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  • Information technology and computational biology
  • Proteomics
  • Systems biology
  • Analysis of gene-trait associations
  • Hyperspectral imaging and digital capture
  • Bt toxin
  • Herbicide resistance
  • Engineering transgenes in metabolic pathways
  • Plant-based gene silencing
  • Site-specific gene insertion systems—zinc fingers, other nucleases, site-specific recombination systems
  • Meiotic recombination
  • Artificial chromosomes
  • Apomixis
  • Bt alternatives
  • Transgenic sentinels of plant physiology
  • Chemical-induced switching
  • Classical biological control
  • Biopesticides
  • Genetically engineered biocontrol—suicide-inducing genes
  • On-farm integrated water management
  • Water storage
  • Wastewater reclamation
  • Desalination
  • Cloud seeding
  • Weather and climate forecasting—data capture and modeling
  • Soil management practices
    • Increasing carbon in soil for productivity and carbon sequestration
    • Improving soil-nutrient budget
    • Soil-water conservation practices
  • Remote sensing of plant physiology for nutrient management and soil quality
  • Zeolites and synthesized nanomaterials
  • Root improvement through breeding and biotechnology
  • Transgenic nitrogen fixation in non-legumes
  • Rhizosphere manipulation
    • Phytostimulators
    • Disease-suppressive soil
    • Biological nitrogen fixation
    • Microbial enhancement of phosphorus uptake by crops
  • Microbe-enhanced drought tolerance
  • Improving grass and legume forage
  • Rumen metagenomics
  • Molecular breeding for animal improvement
  • Engineering animals for disease resistance
    • use of transgenes
    • use of RNAi to target animal viruses
  • Spermatagonial stem cell transplantation
  • Improving neonatal passive immunity
  • Animal vaccines (bacteria-, plant-, DNA-based)
  • Rapid diagnosis and surveillance of disease
  • Hydro, wind, geothermal, wave, and tidal power
  • Solar photovoltaic
  • Concentrated solar (solar-thermal) energy
  • Energy storage (supercapacitors)
  • Hydrogen and fuel cells
  • Biofuels (cellulosic, halophytes, oilseeds, photosynthetic microorganisms)