By Jimoh Babatunde
As Africa’s leaders, scientists, private sectors and donors gathered at Arusha’s Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Tanzania to deliberate on how to scale up investment for agricultural growth in the continent, it has been re-iterated that any meaningful intervention to eradicate poverty and ensure food security must address issue of low productivity and production in agriculture.
Tanzania’s President, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, made this declaration at the official opening of the 2012 African Green Revolution Forum organized by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
While thanking AGRA for choosing his country for the event, he said the theme; ‘Scaling up Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Agricultural Growth and Food Security’ was timely.
President Kikwete said inadequate investment and innovation are major constraining factors to modernization, transformation and growth of agriculture in Africa.
“In turn, it is the source of prevailing precarious food security situation on the continent.”
While arguing that the economic growth of most African countries is anchored on agriculture, he said if African leaders succeed in boosting agricultural productivity and production, “we stand a better chance to attain more robust economic growth and sustainable development, ensure food security and eradicate poverty.”
He added “unfortunately, Africa’s agriculture remains backward and primitive, characterized by low application and production due to limited application of modern science and technology.”
President Kikwete decried the over reliance on rain water for agriculture in the continent , just as he said there is low use of high yielding seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
“Farmers lack modern agricultural production skills and knowledge and do not have access to financial and other supportive services.”
The President said with all these militating factors, farm sizes are meager, thereby making many people who depend on agriculture to form the bulk of poor and so their nations.
“This, in many ways, explains the high prevalence of income poverty and food insecurity in Sub-Sahara Africa. Malnutrition is also a serious problem in Africa particularly among children and pregnant women contributing to high child and maternal mortality.
President Kikwete said the best way out is for African leaders to scale up investment and innovation in agriculture, “if we cannot do that all efforts to transform agriculture will be an exercise in futility.