EDITORIAL: African states should step up agriculture transformation efforts

Putting the agriculture sector at the centre stage of Africa’s development has the power to shape the continent’s economic future. The observation was made by President Paul Kagame, on Wednesday, during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Putting the agriculture sector at the centre stage of Africa’s development has the power to shape the continent’s economic future. The observation was made by President Paul Kagame, on Wednesday, during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The President’s message is a timely reminder about the importance of transforming agriculture to expedite growth on the African continent.

The agriculture sector employs over 70 per cent of the African population. This means that a transformed agriculture sector will spur economic growth and standards of living of the majority of Africans.

However, for this to be achieved, African countries must commit more resources towards transformation of the sector.

In 2003, the Heads of State of African countries launched the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), an agriculture-led integrated framework for development that aims at reducing poverty and increasing food security through pursuing an average 6 per cent annual agricultural growth rate. To stimulate the necessary acceleration in agricultural growth, the leaders committed to invest 10 per cent of total government expenditures in the agriculture sector – a commitment generally known as the Maputo Declaration.

However, some African governments have not taken this commitment seriously.  There is need for all African governments to prioritise agriculture sector funding in national budgets.  Countries which have implemented the annual 10 per cent budget allocation to agriculture have registered great transformation.

Rwanda is one of the countries that have registered tremendous growth as a result of prioritising transformation of agriculture. The African Agriculture Status Report (AASR) listed Rwanda alongside Ghana, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso as some of the best case studies of the impact of increased investment in the agriculture sector. A transformed agriculture sector will deliver the desired growth for Africa. That should be the focus for leaders and policy-makers.

 

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