NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The 2021 Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by five other African heads of states ended September 10 with a conclusion that Africa is way off the track towards zero hunger by 2030, and therefore, there is need to change the way of farming, and the way countries look at the agriculture and food sector.
Agriculture, said Lionel Zinsou former Prime Minister of Benin, is the backbone of most of the economies on the continent, “and yet it has been neglected,” he said.
Addressing over 8,000 AGRF participants including government officials, development partners, research scientists, members of the civil society, farmers and the private sector, Zinsou observed that there is an urgent need for African countries to reconsider investment in Agriculture, “if we must get back on track and address the problem of food and nutrition security by 2030.”
Referring to his country Benin, the former Prime Minister said: “We can’t have agriculture contributing 27 percent to the GDP of a country, employing 50 percent of the population, but with credit share of just two percent.”
Benin’s situation is not very different from Kenya. During the financial year 2021/2022, the government allocated 2.4 percent of the total budget to agriculture to be administered by the central government, a sector that contributes 34 percent to the country’s GDP, and employs in excess of 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population.
“These figures must change,” said Zinsou, also the Founder and Managing Partner at the SouthBridge, an investment bank providing pan-African financial and advisory solutions for public and private clients across Africa.
Most African countries including Kenya are signatories to the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which calls for allocation of at least 10 percent of the total budget to the agriculture sector. The CAADP was seen as the vehicle to stimulate production and bring about food security among the populations of the continent.
However, despite many countries being food insecure, they are yet to allocate even half of what they signed for 18 years ago.
Dr James Mwangi, the Head of Equity Bank said that there is need to appreciate agriculture and finance it to the same level that it contributes to the GDP of the African continent. “At Equity Bank, we have made a bold commitment to allocate 30 of the credit share to the agricultural sector,” he told the AGRF delegates.
Besides the call for agriculture financing, it was observed that African farmers must change the way they produce food, the way they market it and the way they consume it.
At the AGRF, we have heard a strong call for Africa and the world to change the way we produce, process, market, consume food, and reduce waste. We know that a failure to change will make it impossible to achieve the key sustainable development goal of ending hunger by 2030. Hunger and poverty in Africa can only end with resilient food systems,” read the final statement.
“This is a turning point in Africa’s agriculture. We should do things differently by taking a more integrated approach to food systems,” said Hailemariam Dessalegn, the former Prime minister of Ethiopia. “To feed our diversity (over 1000 tribes), we cannot apply one simple solution. The challenge is complex and this requires investments and concerted efforts in a collaborative, measurable way,” he told the delegates reportedly from 103 countries.