How policy implementation can drive Africa’s agro-allied industry

09/12/2016
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Implementation of existing policies and strategies by African countries are essential to develop Africa’s agro-allied industry, Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist and Head of the Strategy and Analysis Team with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa, has said.

Odusola disclosed this during a Plenary Session titled, “Reducing inequality through inclusive agro-allied industrialization” at the 11th African Economic Conference, organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Economic Commission Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the theme “Feeding Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth.”

Speaking as a moderator at the session, he said agro-allied industry is a means and not an end itself to reduce inequality and poverty.

“The only way to make agro-allied industry an end is to use it to eliminate poverty. At the same time, it deals with inequality substantially in the continent,” he said.

“In our discussions, implementation is number one, two, three; meaning we have to focus on some of the existing policies and strategies.

“Essentially, I have always said it, there is hardly any African country that does not have good policy, but the missing link is the implementation of those policies and strategies. That is why it is good to look at what we have and see how we can implement them with commitments,” he said.

According to Odusola, every African nation has strong policy to addressing the lingering situation, but implementation has always been a major challenge.

Aside from implementation, he mentioned need to reduce middlemen across the value chain where 70 per cent of the profit goes to the middlemen rather than the farmers themselves.

He called for a good tax system, partnership between the public and private sector, productivity such as increasing capacity and social protection policies as detailed by the Executive Chairman, African Centre for Shared Development Capacity Building, Olu Ajakaiye.

In his keynote address, Ajakaiye stated that the higher value added to agricultural commodities should be gradually taxed to provide infrastructure for the rural community.

He emphasized the need to train farmers’ children across the value chain such that inequality could be reduced between farmers and the processors.

“The competiveness of actors across the value chain should also be given attention, considering farmers’ immediate environment. Everybody agrees there is huge infrastructural deficit in the rural areas. So when farmers harvest their produce, the fact that the infrastructure deficits also affect the processors means that farmers may have no option other than to sell at the processor’s price,” he added.

For her part, Emime Ndihokubwayo, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Alliance for a Green Evolution in Africa (AGRA), identified strong leadership quality and strategies as major drivers to develop the agro-allied industry in her paper titled “Reducing Inequalities Through Agro-Allied Industrialization.”

She argued that there is serious concern for food security among African nations, thus it becomes imperative for governments to develop bottom-up strategies that would help farmers across the value chain up to the national level.

She also advocated for social security for workers, especially women and youths, adding that it would reduce abuses and address inequality.

Speaking on land as a major factor in agriculture, Ndihokubwayo urged farmers to persuade governments so as to make land accessible for all.