Africa must invest in advanced technology as one of the strategies to deal with challenges of climate change.
The remarks were made in Kigali yesterday, at a meeting to discuss pathways for how agriculture can contribute to meeting the SDGs.
The two day meeting is bringing together a cross section of local and international policy makers, academicians, business leaders and civil society from all over Africa.
The Director General, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe told the participants that demanding quality and safety of what is being grown by farmers comes with climate change challenges that require partnerships to overcome.
“We are beginning to demand quality and safety of what we grow and eat from production to consumption, if we do that, then we have contributed to conservation. In the face of climate change, drought, floods, emergency of pests and diseases is going to be prevalent. Every country that is growing cereals is being faced with most of these challenges. These challenges will require close partnerships in scientific research, disease resistance and farming systems that conserve the soil stability,” he said.
Bagabe said that to mitigate effects of climate change, Africa will for instance need to invest in modern technology that enhances efficient and sustainable use of surface and underground water for agriculture.
The East African Sub-regional Coordinator for Food and Agriculture (FAO) Patrick Kormawa reminded the participants that Africa had the resources but needed to re-focus its attention to diversification.
He said that while over 60 per cent of Africa’s population is under 30 and is home to the world’s youngest population in the world, this number is expected to double by 2045 putting the unemployment within segment that will be around 60 per cent.
He said that if invested in, agriculture can be the continent’s driving engine out of poverty.
“Despite the fact that African economies have been growing at average of 5 per cent per year for the last 15 years, employment generation has not yet jumped to match the population growth. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy and will have to be its driving engine out of poverty since it accounts for 65 per cent of the continent’s employment and 75 per cent of its domestic trade,” he said.
In his presentation, the Director General of the SDGC/A Dr Belay Begashaw said that though Africa was responsible for 85 percent farming, it was still the biggest importer of food at $37 billion per year.
Referring to the environment, he pointed out that of all freshwater species in Africa, 21 per cent were recorded as threatened – 45 per cent of freshwater fish and 58 per cent of freshwater plant species are over-harvested while African birds have declined over the past 25 years.
The workshop, which ends today, is organised by the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa and the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC).