Scaling up agriculture

Africa urged to scale up investments in agriculture

Date: Monday, December 8, 2014
African governments must scale up investments in the agriculture sector to enhance productivity and sustain food security on the continent.

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the Africa Union commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, said the initiative must be done in a more inclusive and sustainable manner. Tumusiime was addressing the second African Union Private Sector and Agribusiness Forum in Kigali, yesterday. The two-day annual conference drew more than 100 agronomists, policy makers, business leaders, farmers and development partners from across Africa and is expected to lay a concrete foundation for the transformation of agriculture across the content.

According to Tumusiime, doubling agro productivity will transform and fast track the continent’s economic growth. “Agro-business is poised for global growth; however, both public and the private sector must complement each other for Africa to benefit from this growth. More resources will have to be extended to women and youth along the value chain to enable them to transform the sector,” Tumusiime said.

Paradox of importing food

She explained that African governments are spending more than $40 billion annually on food imports and yet enough food can be produced on the continent. “As part of the sustained Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the African Union Commission has spearheaded efforts to engage the private sector community in identifying opportunities for their increased participation in agricultural value chains in Africa,” Tumusiime said.

“We have also highlighted and underscored the need to strengthen private sector participation in the programme as part of expansion and strengthening agribusiness in African agricultural value chains.”
Gerardine Mukeshimana, the minister for agriculture, said there was need to turn the sector into a market-oriented industry through increased resource mobilisation.

“We must do more to connect farmers with buyers through rural infrastructure development, technical training and, most importantly, scale up our budget allocations to the sector for sustained economic growth,” Mukeshimana, said.

By Peterson Tumwebaze

Agro-business will grow faster only if the private sector takes a leading role, she added. “Rwanda was the first country to sign up for CAADP, and more than 10 per cent of the National Budget goes to the agriculture because we believe that if you want to stimulate growth, you must increase your budget allocation to the sector,” Mukeshimana said. Hassan Hussein, the African Anion Commission head of trade and industry, said time is ripe to make a difference and link small scale farmers with effective financing mechanisms, markets and better storage facilities.

It’s also imperative for governments to embrace commodity exchange trade to enhance intra regional trade, he added. In Africa, agriculture employs more than 80% of the continent’s population, contributes 20% to total exports and more than 40% to total GDP. In Rwanda, the sector grew by 5% and contributed 1.5 percentage points to the overall Gross Domestic Product growth during the second quarter of 2014.

Overall, the entire sector contributed 33% of the country’s economic growth.

According to National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, food crops fetched Rwf310 billion, livestock and livestock products Rwf41 billion, while export crops brought in only Rwf20 billion, reflecting only 2 per cent contribution to the country’s GDP current prices.

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