By Jimoh Babatunde
The President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) , Dr. Agnes Kalibata, has called on African countries to re-align their agricultural practices, warning that failure to do so will see them having no money to develop other economic components as all financial concentration would be on food imports.
Speaking with Vanguard in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday, the AGRA President there are a lot of missed opportunities for the African continent and when you think of US$35 billion per year which African countries use to import food, of which US$500 million is from East Africa, importing rice.
While noting that same applied to other African countries that spend huge sum of money importing food, Kalibata “If we as African countries don’t do anything deliberately to start growing the food we import, we’ll have no money to grow our economies. Our farmers have the capacity to grow food but the question is what the incentive [of growing enough food] is.”
“We need some pride in our own agriculture; it’s like we’re more proud drinking tea that is packed from somewhere else than tea that is packed [in our countries]…drinking milk that is packed in a tin than drinking milk that has come from a cow next door.
These are some of the things that undermine our agricultural economy and on a bigger scale, we don’t manufacture, we don’t process and we don’t employ the people we’re supposed to employ but selling opportunities to other people.”
In a related call, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, re-emphasized the need for realignment of governments agencies to move agriculture forward in the continent.
She spoke on the background of the AGRA’s 2016 African Agriculture Status Report (AASR) released in Nairobi that indicates that agriculture has had its biggest impact in countries that moved quickly to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program ( CAADP).
CAADP is a growth-oriented agricultural development agenda, aimed at increasing agriculture growth rates to a minimum of six percent per year to create the wealth needed for rural communities and households in Africa to prosper.
Rhoda Peace said: “Now African countries must look at agriculture as being more than the agriculture sector, they have to ensure that other players , like ministry of trade, universities, transport, research institutes and women are brought together.”
“CAADP has been significant in terms of bringing Africa’s agriculture at the forefront of the development agenda – not just an end in itself, which is a justifiable cause par excellence, but also for a successful socio-economic transformation; in reasserting that this is an African agenda and therefore it should be owned and led by Africans; and in terms of demonstrating the leadership commitment and ownership through allocation of at least 10% of national budgets to
She said all the partners in the country need to realign to national investment plans , which were agreed to at a round table, when they signed the CAADP compact. “So everybody must be part of the framework. This what it means when you are going to account or take stock.