Africa > Southern Africa > Botswana > H.E. President Alassane Ouattara and the theme of “Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity

Botswana: H.E. President Alassane Ouattara and the theme of “Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity

2017/09/09

This year, under the leadership of H.E. President Alassane Ouattara and the theme of “Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture”, the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2017 is shaping up as a premier platform to showcase ongoing evolution in Africa’s agricultural transformation schedule and to scale up the political, policy, and financial commitments needed to achieve the Malabo Declaration and the world development schedule around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Following the launch of the landmark annual Africa Agriculture Status Statement (ASSR) at the AGRF taking place in Cote d’Ivoire from 4-8 September 2017, the major conclusion centres around the power of entrepreneurs and the free market in driving Africa’s economic increase from food production. This is owing to the fact that a lot of businesses are waking up to opportunities of a rapidly growing food market in Africa that may be worth additional than $1 trillion each year by 2030 to substitute imports with high price food made in Africa.

According to the statement, agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic increase that failed to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation. Despite 37 % of the people presently living in urban centres, most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for additional than half of the continent’s GDP. Smart investments in the food system can change this picture dramatically if planned correctly.

Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa. This statement shows us that agriculture involving an inclusive transformation that goes beyond the farm to agri-businesses will be Africa’s surest and fastest path to that new level of prosperity,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which commissioned the study.

To succeed, Africa’s agricultural revolution needs to be very different to those seen in the rest of world. It requires an inclusive approach that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains and employment opportunities for millions inclunding those that will transition from farming.

The statement highlights the opportunity for Africa to feed the continent with food made in Africa that meets the growing request of affluent, fast growing urban populations on the continent looking for high price processed and pre-cooked foods. Furthermore, it advocates that this opportunity should be met by a lot of of the continent’s existing smallholder farmers. Currently part of this growing request for Africa’s food is met by imports. These all to $35bn p.a. and are expected to cost $110bn by 2025 unless Africa improves the productivity and world competiveness of its agribusiness and agriculture sectors.

The statement as well acknowledges that the private sector holds the key to the transformation of the food system so far. “Impressive price addition and employment is being created by SMEs along price chains in the form of increased agricultural trade, farm servicing, agro processing, urban retailing and food services. Large agribusinesses like seed companies, agro processors and supermarkets are as well playing an increasing role in the food price chain in a lot of regions,” said Dr Peter Hazell (IFPRI), the technical director of the statement.

However, the study is clear that left to the private sector alone, increase in the agrifood system will not be as fast as it could, nor will it benefit as a lot of smallholder farmers and SMEs as it could. Government support is needed to both stimulate and guide the transition. As a high priority, governments need to create an enabling business environment and in particular, meet targets to invest ten % of GDP in agriculture, agreed at the 2003 African Union (AU) Summit as part of The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

The statement urges governments to nurture a globally competitive food production sector through measures such as increasing infrastructure investment in secondary cities and towns, improving the reliability of energy and water supplies, building additional wholesale market spaces, promoting open regional trade, identifying and investing in initial mover crops and introducing stricter standards for food safety and quality. During the launch, Dr Hazell stressed the role of the government in advancing the business of smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. “The government needs to not only create an enabling environment, but as well be proactive in providing smallholder farmers with the right all of support that could link them to sustainable price chains,” he said.

The authors call on governments to stimulate new private public partnerships for additional innovative financing and insurance provision which can lead to increased resilience for farmers and their households. While globally agricultural insurance is a $2 billion business, Africa accounts for less than two % of the market.

In conclusion, authors of the statement note that although evolution is being made, Africa needs to pick up the pace if it is to compete globally and turn itself from importer to exporter by feeding its people with food made in Africa. “Hopefully the prize of a rapidly growing and precious market for food made in Africa will spark widespread political will and attract the best business talent to build a high price food sector,” said Peter Hazell. “This private public partnership will be essential to provide the trinity of high productivity employment, sustainable economic increase and food made in Africa for Africa and the world.”

Governments need to increase their investments in agriculture and rural infrastructure in line with their 10 % CAADP commitment.Legislation and regulations that boost regional trade in agricultural products will make a significant contribution to the increase of Africa’s food production sector and have a tangible impact on reducing poverty.

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