African smallholder farmers,who grow the majority of Africa’s food. ¬ face enormous challenges, which are now being compounded by the impacts of climate change.
Africans cannot wait for solutions from the outside to address these challenges.
Now is the time for Africa to lead its own development through home-grown policies that correspond to its priorities. Only in this way can we achieve economic growth needed to lift millions out of poverty.
While the majority of our political leaders come from rural areas, including many of our ministers and heads of state, the misery of the African farmer has continued. It is time for African leaders to show the way - and they have begun to do so.
They have committed to achieving six percent annual agricultural growth and to allocating ten percent of national budgets to agriculture, under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
No nation can develop unless it takes full control of the policy space and maps its own development. To spark this effort, the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) launched this week a major policy capacity-building initiative.
Its goals are to must train a new generation of policy analysts for Africa to shape policy dialogues at national, regional and international levels.
We must strengthen the capacity of parliaments across Africa to engage on evidence-based policy dialogues that will help expand public investments for agriculture.
And we must build the capacity of farmers to engage on effective policy advocacy. We must implement concrete policies that will revitalize African agriculture.
This is the time to replace the old ‘Washington Consensus’ with a new consensus: an ‘African Consensus’, one that puts the interest of African farmers and economies first.
For too long, Africa¹s lack of internal capacity has kept it reliant on policy analysis generated outside of the continent, and often imposed as conditions for receipt of development aid.
Well-intentioned outside advice often fails to respond to the realities of African farmers.
AGRA is working with African and international partners to transform the subsistence farming of smallholders into a productive, efficient, and sustainable system that can lift millions out of poverty.
This will take comprehensive change, a key part of which is increasing farmers’ access to new technologies, such as improved seeds of African staple crops, as well as fertilizers and other inputs.
But technology alone won¹t bring about food self-sufficiency.
A bumper crop of maize is a good thing. But if there is no road to bring it to the market or the market is glutted with maize and prices crash, then it will rot in the fields.
Farmers need access to extension systems, markets and trade.
To drive the new African Consensus, AGRA will work closely with NEPAD,
Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, Regional Economic Communities, and national and regional policy networks.
Our goal is not to produce papers that collect dust on shelves. Farmers don’t eat policy papers.
What they need and what we will help them to achieve, are practical and sound policies that will change their lives and enable them to help turn Africa into a breadbasket for the world.
Akinwumi A. Adesina, PhD, is AGRA’s Vice President of Policy and Partnerships.