By Edmund Smith-Asante
After three days of meeting of experts in agriculture in Africa, a call has been made for innovations that will boost the sector and make the continent self-sufficient in food production.
It was organised with support from the African Union (AU) Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency as a follow up to a commitment made by African heads of state in Equatorial Guinea to invest in agriculture in order to halve hunger by 2025. It was named the Malabo Declaration.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Mr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, appealed to the delegates to support the establishment of appropriate financing tools for agricultural development to transform the continent.
“We need to design new and fit-for-purpose instruments that are able to help deal with emerging trends, challenges and opportunities in the sector,” Mr Mayaki urged.
The Commissioner for Rural Economy, AU Commission, Ms Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, said, “In this changing and fast growing world, investing in agriculture makes economic sense.”
She, therefore, urged African governments to invest at least 10 per cent of their national budgets in agriculture to end hunger on the continent by 2025.
“For a continent that spends some $40 billion each year on food imports, we cannot complain of lack of resources to develop and transform our agriculture. We need to be innovative and committed,” Ms Tumusiime said.
The chairman of the CAADP Development Partnership Team, Mr Christoph Rauh, said 14 million African youth were expected on the job market each year, and that the annual food imports on the continent had hit $40 billion.
“Agriculture needs to be a good option for the youth. The commitment of governments is critical for the development of agriculture. It is now up to African countries to live up to the goals of the Malabo Declaration and full CAADP implementation,” he stated.
Ghana’s deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Crops, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, called for a paradigm shift in investments from a public sector-led approach to private sector-led.
He observed that banks were not eager to lend to farmers because of the perceived risks involved but indicated that through innovative financing and partnerships such as the organisation of smallholder farmers into viable organisations, the sector could still attract financial support from the banks.
This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on April 28, 2016