By Yusuf Muhammed
Mr Josue Dione, Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), on Tuesday in Addis Ababa urged a transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa.
He stressed the need for the transformation of the sector from subsistence system to a market oriented system, as a contribution to the MDGs.
Dione said if transformed, agriculture could play a critical role in the achievement of the MDGs through broad_based growth, food security, employment and poverty reduction.
Dione said an effective transformation of agriculture in Africa was necessary to bridge the poor linkages of farmers to input markets and product markets accompanied with rapid urbanisation.
“This shows the need for a comprehensive value chain approach to agriculture development where the focus goes beyond the narrow confines of the farm stage to the agro_industry and agribusiness stages that connect farmers to markets,” he said.
Dione said an effective agricultural transformation must also address the high degree of fragmentation and the weak integration of the African agriculture market among 53 countries and the 12 sub_regional groupings.
He said UNECA had addressed agricultural transformation through the development of regionally coordinated value chains of strategic food and agriculture commodities within the framework of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Dione said in partnership with FAO and UNIDO, UNECA’s support of the AU in this regard was premised on the belief that regional integration of the market would offer economic space and incentives for profitable private sector investment in agriculture.
He said agricultural transformation would also generate effective public_private partnerships to deliver necessary infrastructure while regional research centres of excellence would tackle technological challenges.