Mr Kofi Annan, Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), on Friday attributed the continent’s inability to harness agricultural potentials to neglected agriculture policies and inadequate investment in the sector.
“The time is right to invest in African agriculture and our small-holder farmers,” he said when addressing the first ever AGRA forum in Accra.
The forum aimed to share experiences of various agricultural programmes of African countries for adoption to increase food production is being supported by African Development Bank, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), NEPAD, Rockefeller Foundation, Standard Bank and Yara International.
The Former UN Secretary-General, who was addressing about 700 participants, said, “If we prioritise our investments and work together in partnerships, we can deliver long-term solutions to hunger and poverty, and propel our continent on a path to prosperity”.
Mr Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda, Prime Minister of Tanzania, noted that “The world is recovering from global food and financial crisis. As a result the number of undernourished people has increased. Africa must take the bull by the horns and end the structural reasons that prevent it from feeding itself.”
Sharing experience of his country, he said in the 1970s, policies of structural adjustment “abolished all forms of support for farmers,” with a devastating effect on small-holders in particular.
“During this time the use of fertilizer and other farm inputs declined, along with agricultural production. But today, Tanzania approaches agricultural development “on our own terms,” Mr Pinda said.
He said the Tanzanian Government launched a voucher programme in 2005 and 2006 to enable small-holder farmers access improved seeds and fertilizer.
Mr Pinda said “In 2009, the Government launched the Kilimo Kwanza, which means Agriculture First in Kiswahili, to transform agriculture into a modern and commercial sector. The Programme has resulted in maize surpluses.”
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, noted that agriculture development on the continent had been difficult to sustain in the past, particularly when some countries experienced a change of political leadership.
“Partnerships between philanthropic organisations, the public and private sectors offer a solution. These would make sustainability possible,” he added.