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The African Development Bank (AfDB) plans to improve the agriculture sector in Africa by embarking on an ambitious seven-point plan which aims at transforming the sector and be able to empower the small scale farmers and youths.
AfDB Director of the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department, Chiji Ojukwu, said agriculture remained a major source of income in Africa, but its untapped potential had resulted in persistent poverty and deteriorating food security.
Ojukwu said the AfDB, in collaboration with some partners, had come up with seven enablers that would address the various challenges which had been noted as hindering the growth of agriculture in Africa.
“The AfDB, in collaboration with partners, will contribute to orchestrate, architect, scale and replicate transformation through seven enablers,” he said.
In his presentation on Day 2 of the AfDB Annual Meetings in Lusaka on “The Road to Agricultural Transformation in Africa”, Ojukwu said among the strategies mapped up was to increase productivity, realised value of increased production and increased investment in hard and soft infrastructure.
Other enablers hinge on financing expanded agricultural, improved agribusiness environment, increased inclusivity, sustainability, nutrition and coordination.
Ojukwu disclosed that US $315-400 billion was required over the next decade or US $32-40 billion annually to transform the agricultural sector in Africa.
“The AfDB and public sector partners will crowd in private and institutional funding by establishing enabling environments for private investments, employing innovate de-risking tools and blending finance,” he said.
Contributing to the discussion, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department, Perin Saint-Ange, said IFAD had committed US $500,000,000 to the development of the sector in Africa annually for a period of three years starting this year.
Saint-Ange said the aid would target the small-scale farmers and youths so that they could have access to better technology, farming inputs, processing facilities and markets.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, who also participated in the panel discussion, said Africa needed to look at agriculture in a different perceptive if the continent was to actualise its dream of diversification.
Adesina said agriculture had the potential to stabilise economies and should be looked at as a business.
“We can’t keep sitting on potential. We need to change our mindset, agriculture is a business. Why is it that people in agriculture are poor? We must change this, agriculture is a business and a source of creating wealth and employment,” he said.
Adesina also observed that there was need to revisit most curricula in tertiary education institutions, which were outdated and not relevant to the modern times.
“When we talk about research, let us talk about research that has impact and not academic benefits. We need to change those curriculums taught in the ’50s as they are not applicable to recent times. People don’t eat paper [academic qualifications], they eat food,” he said.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Bukar Tijani said there was need to speed up the progress of improving the agriculture sector in Africa.
Tijani said the process should not take very long, but rather less than 10 years and was happy that various stakeholders including the African Union (AU) were working towards achieving the goal.