President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Wednesday called on African leaders to redefine the future of the continents’ agriculture by harassing fully the benefits of the digital revolution to ensure food security.
He said the full digitalization of agriculture presented a great deal of opportunities for transformative growth in Africa, and would unlock the continent’s vast potential in the agricultural value chain.
At the 2019 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Presidential Summit held in Accra, President Akufo-Addo noted that technology was defining future food security and Africa must leverage the digital revolution “to make this our time for agricultural transformation across the continent.”
“Digitalization is a revolution that is here with us, and has surely come to stay. Africa has no excuse but to make the most of it. Our responsibility, whether as leaders of our families, our institutions, our companies, or our countries, is to tap into this new resource and opportunity at our disposal, to make this our time for agricultural transformation across the continent.”
The Summit was attended by several African leaders including the Nigerien President, Mahamadou Issoufou, the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osingbajo, and the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Edward Ngirente.
Also in attendance were Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and former Nigerian President, General Olusegun Obassanjo, as well as Nane Maria Annan, the wife of late Ghanaian global icon, Kofi Annan.
The AGRF, organised by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Government of Ghana, is on the theme: “Grow Digital: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa”.
The event is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, pulling together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to discuss and commit to policies, programmes and investments to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation.
The four-day forum attracted some 2,500 delegates from 79 countries in Africa and across the globe, including Heads of State, Ministers of Agriculture, Central Bank Governors, captains of industry, development partners, representatives of farmer organisations, youth entrepreneurs and other critical stakeholders.
It focuses on three areas – leveraging on the digital revolution to leap-frog Africa’s agriculture into the future, empowering private sector and SME’s, and tackling climate change issues.
President Akufo-Addo called on his colleague African heads of state to prioritise the need to systematically develop policies to deal with the challenges of agriculture in their respective countries.
His government, he told the gathering, had put the transformation of agriculture at the heart of the nation’s priorities because; “I believe the majority of the people can only feel a change in their lives if we develop agriculture to bring in its wake, rapid economic growth, job creation, reduction in the phenomenon of rural urban migration, improvement in the resilience of communities in the fight against climate change and the achievement of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
“If we are to realise these dividends, we must, as a matter of urgency, confront the many challenges that impede the advancement of the Agriculture sector.”
These, the President noted, included inadequate infrastructure, under-developed value chains, inadequate processing and storage capabilities, poor access to Agricultural financing, high post-harvest loses, low adoption of technologies, low mechanisation drive, and weak markets.
He said his administration’s response to dealing with the challenges had been to formulate a national investment plan for Agriculture over the next four years, which had been entitled “investing for food and jobs”.
“We are rolling out a set of strategic flagship interventions in the various sectors of Agriculture under the programme; “Planting for Food and Jobs,” President Akufo-Addo said, which was already showing good results.
The programme has five main modules; the food crops module, the tree crops module, the livestock module, the green house village module and mechanization module.
“These comprehensive programmes and its innovative policies are already showing good results” the President noted.
Later at a panel discussion moderated by Mr Tony Blair, President Akufo-Addo said agricultural productivity in Ghana had witnessed a steady growth over the past two years due to the increased use of technology.
Technology had made a positive impact across the agricultural value chain and enabled the Government to build a credible database in the agricultural sector to support efficient policy formulation and implementation.
Data from the sector, he added, had made the Government’s approach in dealing with the challenges more efficient.
“Data in the agricultural sector is much more comprehensive than ever before,” he said and that Ghana could produce to feed the entire West African Region in the near future.
The President expressed confidence that food security was within reach of the continent “if we can increase the use of technology in the agricultural sector.”
With a population of 1.2, Africa, he noted, had the ability to produce more food to achieve food security and called for increased intra-regional trade to lift her economic fortunes.
“We need alliances to get technologies that will help us penetrate those markets,” he said, adding; “But we first need to ensure that our production is efficient.”
Also on the panel were the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osingbajo, the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Edouard Ngirente, and a representative of the African Union Commission.