“Nourishment is a right”: Africa should modernise its agriculture

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“The most important security is that of the stomach,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), declared at the opening of the conference on agriculture and agro-industry, “Feeding Africa”, which is taking place from October 21-23 in Dakar.

In his speech, President Adesina declared that Africa is ready to transform agriculture into a commercial enterprise. Nevertheless, such a transformation can only take place through the diversification of the agricultural sector. He also underlined that being able to feed oneself, in sufficient quantities and with quality food, is a right for each and every human being.

Adesina is convinced on the issue: Africa should be the food basket of the world, he said, but, in order to be so, it has to unleash its full potential and therefore undergo a radical transformation of its agriculture. “Agro-industry is a sector which can create four times more employment than any other sector,” the AfDB President pointed out, and he intends to support any actions taken in this area by African countries.

According to estimates, the bill for importation of foodstuffs into Africa comes to US $35 billion a year. For this reason, the AfDB President is encouraging Africans to develop their agricultural sectors and to use the budget allocated to food imports elsewhere.

Akinwumi Adesina called upon both the Central Banks and development banks to provide loans to the sector. “Offering credit to farming is profitable,” he claimed. He also called for significant investment in rural infrastructure. Moreover, he had already announced his desire to launch a “New Deal for Energy in Africa”, in order to make good the deficit which currently blights the continent and which hampers its development.

African agriculture must modernise. The AfDB President wants young people to invest in the sector and he asks that women, who have a large presence in the sector, be given help to access land. Even better than that, the AfDB and its development partners are going to commit US $300 million to financing a support fund for women who work in the agricultural sector in Africa.

In order to respond to the need to modernise African agriculture, Adesina is calling for investment in transformation of the sector, a means of development in the sense that it helps to reinforce food security, reduce poverty, stimulate exports and further economic recovery.

The AfDB President has called on all Africans to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and to secure Africa’s position on the global value chain.