Representatives from eight African States -- including two countries that voted against Israel at UN vote on Hamas on Thursday -- and officials from the Volcani Center in Bet Dagan at the start of a four day seminar exploring new technology regarding food production, increasing crop yields and food.
(photo credit: COURTESY VOLCANI CENTER)
On Thursday, Nigeria and Zambia voted against an anti-Hamas resolution at the UN, helping to ensure that it would not be adopted. On Sunday, their representatives in an organization hoping to improve agriculture production in Africa arrived in Israel for a four-day seminar.
The Ghanaian and Nigerian representatives to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), joined together with representatives from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Burkina Faso for a seminar through the Volcani Center in Beit Dagan, Israel’s leading agricultural research organization, to explore new technologies regarding food production, increasing crop yields and food safety.
The meeting is a step toward the establishment of an Israeli-Africa Agriculture Innovation Center, and another manifestation of closer ties between Israel and Africa. AGRA is an organization funded heavily by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and its main goal is to provide food security for Africa.
“Israel’s expertise in agriculture and many of Volcani’s innovations can be of great assistance to Africa,” said Eli Feinerman, head of the Volcani Center.
Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA based in Kenya, said an Israel-Africa Agriculture Innovation Center “would be a win-win for both Israel and Africa. Africa could benefit from Israel’s technical expertise in agriculture and at the same time the Innovation Center could create an opportunity for trade and mutual market opportunities between Africa and Israel.”
Part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push over the last few years for improved ties with Africa has been to open up the huge African market to Israeli technology and products, and part has also been an attempt to improve Israel’s diplomatic position by getting African nations to stop voting reflexively against Israel in international forums.
Last Thursday’s vote in the UN on a resolution condemning Hamas that fell nine votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to be adopted had mixed results in Africa.
Only seven of Africa’s 54 countries – Rwanda, South Sudan, Eritrea, Malawi, Liberia, Lesotho and Cabo Verde – voted with Israel and the US in support of the resolution, while 10 abstained and another 10 did not vote. The other 28 African states voted against the measure, including two countries that have representatives on the current trip: Zambia and Nigeria. What is striking is that Nigeria, which voted against a measure that would condemn Hamas terrorism, is itself in a bloody battle against the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
Ten of Africa’s countries are in the Arab League, which voted as one against condemning Hamas.
Eighty-seven countries voted for the anti-Hamas measure, while 57 voted against and 33 abstained. The necessity for a special two-thirds majority came about because a measure requiring such a special majority passed by a slim three-vote margin, 75-72.
Had some of the countries with whom Israel has close relations in Africa and who have representatives on the current trip to learn about food technology – Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia – voted AGAINST the need for a two-thirds majority, then the anti-Hamas resolution would have passed with a simple majority. Kenya abstained, but Uganda and Ethiopia voted in favor of the special majority, a majority US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley denounced as a “double standard.”
The Volcani Center is coordinating the seminar along with Start-Up Nation Central, the Tony Blair Institute and the Syngenta Foundation.
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