President Paul Kagame has said putting agriculture sector at the centre stage of the continent’s development has the power to shape Africa’s economic future.
President Kagame was speaking, yesterday, at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, Kenya, during a panel session alongside Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rhoda Tumusiime, the African Union commissioner for rural development and agriculture.
Kagame said African countries ought to view the agriculture sector not only as a sector in their economies but as the backbone of their economies and agent for transformation.
This, he said, can be done by linking the sector to other priority sectors that also have an impact on transforming the continent’s economy.
“We should not only seize the moment but continue momentum for transformation of agriculture and economies of our continent,” Kagame said.
Among the ways to increase agriculture’s role in Africa’s social economic development, the President said, was to increasingly involve young people and women in the sectors value chain.
The President added that the agricultural sector can also benefit greatly by adopting technology to increase awareness as well as value of the output, which would see the sector move from a subsistence one to commercial.
“Technology is important and practical when applied to assist with something. Technology has brought about awareness and also increased the value of the output. Modernisation of agriculture is key. We have to make it much more than subsistence,” the President said.
By learning from past trends in the sector and avoiding repetition of old cycles, Kagame said agriculture can undergo a revolution, increasing its productivity and impact on the continent.
He called on stakeholders in the sector, including citizens, governments and development partners, to pool their efforts to put agriculture at the center stage of transforming the continent’s economic path.
“Let’s stop talking a lot about things and just do them. Let’s do more action and less speeches,” the President said.
Gains from technology
Echoing Kagame’s sentiments, President Kenyatta said the incorporation of technology into the agriculture sector would see farmers access better markets and rid themselves of exploitation by middlemen.
Uhuru added that governments alone cannot transform the sector without the partnership and support of the private sector members who he called to view the sector as a business.
“Together, we must make bigger and bolder steps in understanding the importance of agriculture in our continent,” Kenyatta said.
A report released on the sidelines of the forum, listed Rwanda as one of the nations which has enjoyed sustained agriculture productivity in the last decade, consequently reducing poverty rates.
The report, 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 sector in the respective countries.
Speaking on the sidelines of the forum, Tonny Nsanganira, the minister of state for agriculture, said, at the forum, Rwanda would share experience with other countries on the transformation process.
Nsanganira said Rwanda was out to attract members of the private sector from across the world to be part of the agriculture transformation process.
“We are here to try and attract the private sector to be part of the process and building on the foundation which government has invested in other the past years,” he said.
The progress achieved over the years in the sector, he said had been courtesy of good leadership, good policies and the conditions of business environment to attract the private sector.