Participants at the High Level Â Â Â Conference on the Development of Agribusiness and Agro-industries (HLCD-3A) on Wednesday endorsed an ambitious plan to generate employment, income and food security in Africa.
UNIDO, in a statement in Abuja, said Heads of State and Government as well as agriculture and industry ministers from 44 African countries endorsed the African Agribusiness and Agro-industries Development Initiative otherwise known as 3ADI. Others who endorsed the initiative were heads and representatives of financial institutions and international organisations.
The initiative comprises a programme framework and associated financial modalities through which the public and private sectors could mobilise resources for investment in agri-food sector development in Africa.
The three-day conference, which ended on Wednesday, was organised by the UNIDO, FAO and IFAD, in collaboration with the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, with Nigeria as host. Acting President Good luck Jonathan said in his speech that Africa must harness its potentials if it must overcome the recession facing it.
â€œAfrica can surmount the threats of the recession if we can diversify and exploit the available potentials Mother Nature has endowed us with. A robust agri-business and agro-industry sector holds the key to our economic transformation and sustainable development,â€™â€™ he said.
He said Africa would require about 9.2 trillion dollars in cumulative investments worldwide to feed the world in 2050 when its population was expected to reach 2 billion. Jonathan said sub-Saharan Africa alone would need about 940 billion dollars of investment of which about 66 per cent would be required for agribusiness and agro-industries capital outlays.
â€œWe must exploit our resources and produce them for our local consumption and export, add value to our numerous agricultural produce and earth resources and remain competitive to overcome the global recession.
This underscores the importance my administration attaches to the deliberations and resolutions which have emerged from this conference,â€ Jonathan said. Earlier, UNIDO Director-General, Mr Kandeh Yumkella, said agribusiness in Africa needed to undergo a profound structural transformation and technological upgrading in the next 20 years. This, he said, would generate jobs and income urgently needed by Africaâ€s growing population. Yumkella said the environment and technological capability required for the transformation of the agri-food system were more favourable than ever. Participants noted that some of the greatest growth potentials for African agro-industry lay in small and medium enterprises.
But they called for the promotion of large-scale agro-enterprises as they could have important poverty-reduction impacts. They said policies such as subsidies on labour-saving technologies which favour large-scale highly mechanised operations should be avoided.
It would be recalled that African Heads of State and Government had in the 2003 Maputo Declaration pledged to invest a minimum of 10 per cent of budgetary resources in the agricultural sector. At the 2009 G-8 meeting in Lâ€Aquila, Italy, the forum renewed the commitment of the donor community to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.Â The programme had set an annual agricultural growth target of 6 per cent to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty by 2015.