Agric forum to focus on ways to reduce Africa’s food imports

According to FAO, smallholders in Africa still have limited access to the innovations, technology, knowledge and information, as well as agricultural inputs.
A rice farmer in one of the rice gardens in Gatsata, Gasabo District. File

Rwanda is set to host the 2018 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) next month to discuss solutions to problems challenging smallholder farmers amid reports that the continent spends tens of billions of dollars on food imports annually.

According to statistics from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa spends $35 billion on food imports annually. The figure is projected to rise to $110 billion by 2025 if the current trend is not reversed.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), small-scale farmers produce 80 per cent of the food supply in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and investments to improve their productivity are urgently needed.

FAO experts say that, in many countries, smallholders still have limited access to the innovations, technology, knowledge and information, as well as agricultural inputs such as quality seed and fertilisers to enhance productivity and incomes.

The forum, which will take place from September 5-8, in Kigali, seeks to empower smallholder farmers to deal with food insecurity in Africa.

During a recent Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting held in Washington D.C, the President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, called for technology transfer to farmers to increase farm productivity

“Africa should be the breadbasket of the world. It has no reason spending US$ 35 billion a year importing food,” he said.

Earlier, Adesina had said that cheap food imports decimate rural economies, displace farmer incomes, and divert scarce foreign exchange. He added that they instead replace what Africa should be producing, making it impossible to create millions of jobs for young people.

Billed as the world’s most important and impactful forum on African agriculture, the conference seeks to accelerate  Africa’s agricultural sector and food systems to more rapidly and sustainably deliver incomes, food security, nutrition, and wider economic opportunities.

Running under the theme “Lead, Measure, Grow: Enabling new pathways to turn smallholders into future agribusinesses,” the conference will consider effective ways through which Africa’s agricultural sector and food systems can more rapidly and sustainably deliver incomes, food security, nutrition, and wider economic opportunities.

The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods,  made by African Heads of State in 2014 in Equatorial Guinea, upheld earlier commitment to allocate at least 10% of public expenditure to agriculture, and to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness; and committed to Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025.

The 2018 AGRF is expected to attract more than 2,000 delegates, including farmers, public sector thought leaders, private sector champions, agripreneurs, and many other players from across the continent and other parts of the world.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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