By Jimoh Babatunde
African leaders and private sector organizations have been urged to keep promises made to support agriculture growth in the continent if it is to achieve food and nutrition security at home – and help deliver it globally in the long-term.
This call was made Thursday in Arusha, Tanzania by Kofi Annan, Chairman, and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa at the opening of 2012 African Green Revolution Forum.
Tanzania President, Jakaya Kikwete led other leaders and stakeholders to discuss how to tackle leadership policy, revolutionizing African agricultural finance models, strengthening markets, and transforming African agriculture through innovative partnerships.
In his key note address, Kofi Annan noted that African leaders under the 2003 Maputo Declaration promised raise their investment in agriculture to at least the 10 per cent levels of national budget, adding that promises fulfilled is promise made.
“Africa needs to tackle the legacy of chronic underfunding in agriculture, if it is to achieve food and nutrition security at home – and help deliver it globally in the long-term. The challenge is to realize a dream of a more prosperous and equitable future for all Africans.”
The former United Nation’ s Secretary General said the ability of Africa to achieve food and nutrition security, both in Africa and globally, depends on catalyzing a sustainable Green Revolution.
Achieving this, according to him, include a “climate smart” transformation of African agriculture that increases the productivity of land, labour, and capital invested in farming, while strengthening the resilience of farmers to climate change.
“As well as addressing large-scale land acquisitions that risk giving away fertile arable land for other use such as the production of bio-fuels. “
Kofi Annan also used the occasion to call for unwavering focus on improving the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers – most of whom are women.
He said the support for small-holder producers should include creating opportunities to enable them to move from subsistence farming to running their farms as businesses; encouraging community cooperation to empower individual farmers; and ensuring they are well organized and have access to seeds, fertilizers, knowledge and markets so they can play their full role in Africa’s agricultural transformation.
While arguing that large farms have critical role to play in providing opportunities for aggregating smallholder production for market, he calls for the need to give younger generation’s greater opportunity to play a larger role in the agricultural revolution.