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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…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As the world prepare for the United Nation’s led summit to discuss global food and nutrition security, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has pointed out key issues that must be addressed for Africa to attain resilient and sustainable food systems.During the presidential summit at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which was hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by Presidents of Malawi, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda, Museveni said that the issue of sustainable food systems in Africa was a multidimensional one and should be addressed at different levels.“The first issue is seeds,” said the president, noting that there is need for African countries to invest in improved seeds and agricultural research. “Fortunately in Uganda we have research institutions, and they have handled the issue of improved seeds for many crops,” he said.Museveni noted that apart from seeds, countries must address the issue of good agronomic practices, which include control of soil erosion, retention of soil moisture use of recommended farm inputs, good crop and animal husbandry among others.“We also must address the issue of storage and post harvest handling,” he said. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates from 2011 suggest that as much as 37 percent of food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost between production and consumption. Estimates for cereals are 20.5 percent. African countries were also asked to embrace farm mechanization and work towards improving the transport systems, particularly the roads and the railway system for easy trade of food commodities.To sustain food productivity without relying on climatic conditions, the head of state observed that the UN Food Systems Summit must address the issue of irrigation in African countries. Studies have so far shown that in the Sub Saharan Africa region, less than four percent of the area cultivated is equipped for irrigation.“Some countries like Uganda have sufficient food and we even have surplus. So I urge the Heads of States to address the issue of markets for such countries. Farmers can only produce better if they are sure that they have the market for their produce,” said President Museveni.So far, the Africa Union has already formed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with an aim of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.Other issues discussed at the AGRF high level summit include the use of recommended fertilisers, control of crop pests and diseases, soil mapping to understand which food grows better where, overfishing particularly on Lake Victoria, and sufficient electricity supply in all African countries to facilitate food processing.Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta called on African leaders to prioritise initiatives that will cause inclusive agricultural transformation.“In order to overcome (some of the) negative perceptions (about agriculture in Kenya) and to show our children and youth the nobility and profitability of agriculture, we are elevating the place of agriculture in our schools by revitalizing the 4-K-Clubs,” said the Head of State.President Kagame of…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been awarded the 2021 Africa Food Prize, for work that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. ICRISAT, a CGIAR Research Center, is a non-profit, non-political public international research organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. Between 2007 and 2019, ICRISAT led a collaboration of partners to deliver the Tropical Legumes Project. The project, undertaken together with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), developed 266 improved legume varieties and almost half a million tons of seed for a range of legume crops, including cowpeas, pigeon peas, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, and soybean. These new varieties have helped over 25 million smallholder farmers become more resilient to climate change, as well as pest and disease outbreaks. In addition to these new varieties, the project trained 52 scientists, who are already working in national research institutes across the continent. Training these next generation scientists in the countries where the projects were implemented, has helped strengthen the research capacity of national agricultural research systems in Africa and contributed to sustaining the gains the projects have made. Congratulating the winner, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee and former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, said: “ICRISAT’s leadership in developing seeds that not only end malnutrition but also survive in semi-arid areas is inspiring other agricultural organisations to rethink seed development and farming practices that suit and solve Africa’s agricultural challenges.” “Their work is also important as it provides an inclusive approach that supports the whole agricultural value chain, from farm to fork, providing farmers with farming tools and a market for their produce,’’ he said. Accepting the award, Dr. Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, ICRISAT Director General, said the Institute’s work spanned the entire value chain, from high-end genomics to markets and agri-business in dryland cropping systems. “We also empower women and attract youth back to agriculture using the latest tools and technologies available to make farming profitable. “The Africa Food Prize is a major accolade and recognition of ICRISAT’s work in Africa and reinforces our belief that agriculture can be profitable for smallholder farmers. It is also testament to the work of our close collaborators, the national agriculture research and extension systems, without whose support this would not have been possible. “We dedicate this award to the smallholder farmers in the drylands of Africa, as they are the ones who inspire us with their patience and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Dr. Hughes. Dryland ecosystems cover 45 per cent of Africa’s landmass and feed and support almost half a billion people. However, these systems are fragile and prone to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Programs like the Tropical Legumes projects help the millions of smallholder farmers relying on drylands ecosystems to grow more food and…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A new report released at the onset of 2021 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) has called on all players in the agriculture sector, including governments, pan-African organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners, and the private sector to work collectively as a team so as to build resilient and sustainable food systems for the continent.The Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) is an annual publication that is published by AGRA since 2013, and has become a reference point for emerging topics on agriculture in the region.Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 report details the practical steps all players from governments and regional organizations to the private sector need to take to rebuild and enhance Africa’s food systems.“The pandemic has shown that despite the progress we’ve made over the last decade, Africa’s food systems remain fragile to external shocks,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s President. “We must take the opportunity we have to rebuild from the pandemic, to make our food systems more resilient without putting further pressure on the environment,” she added.However, Prof Kevin Chika Urama of the Africa Development Bank and one of the editors observed that despite the challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an eye opener and an opportunity for people to start thinking differently. Joachim von Braun, a Professor for Economic and Technological Change, Bonn University, Germany noted that Africa does not need to choose between stereotyped approaches, such as “technological approaches” or “agro-ecology approaches”, but farmers and their partners in value chains can identify and develop “African approaches”.“These will be based on locally adaptive agricultural research, new science, the creativity of farmers, and extension, and entail context-specific, climate smart, sustainable improved practices in the highly varied conditions of rural Africa,” noted the Professor, who is also the President of the Pontifical Academy of Science, The Vatican.The scientists noted that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region has registered the most rapid rate of agricultural production growth since 2000 of any region of the world. However, three quarters of this growth is driven by the expansion of crop land, over yield increases."Raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable,” said Andrew Cox, AGRA's Chief of Staff and Strategy. “Raising productivity on existing farmland will reduce pressures for continued expansion of cropland, and preserve valued forest and grassland ecosystems and the biodiversity that they provide," he added.The report outlines the priorities and next steps that must be taken by all stakeholders to achieve the transformation that will lead to sustainable and resilient agri-food systems. “The AASR21 should serve as a wake-up call of the need to act urgently to support the creation of resilient food systems and reverse or mitigate the impact we’ve seen on the environment,” said Dr. Thom Jayne of Michigan State University, and lead author of the report.It further builds on the call to action to African governments from the UN Food Systems Summit, recognizing the need…
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