Ghana is among eight African countries spending at least 10 percent of their annual budgets on agriculture, in line with a target adopted a decade ago by the African Union?s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Maputo, Mozambique.

The other countries are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

Business24

By the year 2012, over 40 African countries had formally launched the CAADP implementation.

The past decade (2003-2013) has been Africa?s unprecedented decade of economic growth. Trends of impressive economic growth, improved governance and improved human development indicators are emerging within the continent.

Though Africa is becoming a new frontier of economic and other opportunities, and host to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the current pace and pattern of growth has not delivered the jobs and poverty reduction that the continent has been seeking.

Africa has not achieved the levels of food security needed in a much more precarious global market and with new risks resulting from climate change. The vast majority of Africans living in rural communities have been left behind in this ?positive? economic growth.

More than half of Africans, 388 million, live in extreme poverty while 239 million are chronically malnourished (FAO, 2012). Thus, in a nutshell, growth in Africa over the past decade has not been inclusive.

Africa can be considered a dormant global breadbasket seeking an ?Agricultural Revolution?.

The FAO estimates that 24 percent of the world?s land with rain-fed crop production potential is in sub-Saharan Africa, though this has been argued to be an overestimation due to soil and terrain constraints, natural causes as well as human intervention — for instance through salinisation and soil erosion in the irrigated areas, leading to deterioration of the resource?s productive potential.

An increasing demand for food and decreasing food supply has led to price hikes and social and political unrest. However, globalisation has allowed developing countries to more actively participate in world trade; thereby presenting an opportunity for African agriculture to bridgethe gap between agricultural supply and demand by leveraging its abundant capital. In 2006, developing countries accounted for 30 percent of world exports (AfDB, 2011).

At the opening ceremony to mark the 2013 African Green Revolution Forum in Maputo on September 4, the Vice Chair of the Board of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, traced the origins of AGRA and noted that 10 years ago, after the CAADP Declaration, the Rockefeller Foundation and himself explored the idea of a green revolution in Africa — which should be African-led but required partners, hence the name an Alliance.

They approached the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who graciously agreed to chair the alliance and AGRA was born.

Thus, hosting an African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) was aimed at providing a critical and broad platform to discuss policy and practice and harness initiatives and partnerships dedicated to ensuring food security, reducing poverty and spurring profitable and sustainable agricultural growth that improves the lives of smallholder farmers across Africa.

The first AGRF 2010 was held in Accra, Ghana, and hosted by the late President of Ghana, Professor John Atta Mills; and the second was in 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania, hosted by President Jakaya Kikwete.

The third is the current one hosted in Maputo, Mozambique, with the theme ?Scaling-up and Financing Inclusive Agribusiness through Transformative Public-Private Partnerships?.

In her statement, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, indicated that the Commission of the African Union takes AGRF as a strategic platform for consolidating cooperation and collaboration and enhancing collective clarity on Africa?s agricultural transformation agenda, which is needed now more than ever before.

She said CAADP compacts have now risen to 34 AU member-states, of which 27 have developed formal national agriculture and food security investment plans. However, in spite of this, she said Africa continues to face challenges relating to food security occasioned by very low levels of agricultural productivity and investment.

Citing examples, she said cereal yields in Africa average only 1.2 tonnes per hectare compared to over three tonnes per hectare for Asia and Latin America, and about 5.5 tonnes per hectare for the European Union.

?As a result, Africa?s dependence on food imports has risen from about 12 percent in 2000 to about 18 percent in 2010 for crops, and from 4 percent to 8 percent for meat during the same period. Africa is spending US$40-50billion annually on imports of agricultural products, and in doing so losing huge opportunities not only in foreign exchange but most importantly in terms of jobs lost.?

The situation, she noted, is further aggravated by the fact that Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change variability and change. The AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture noted that over the last five years economic growth has been steady within 4-5%, but added the continent must avoid the state of affairs whereby countries grow economically but the food security situation lags behind.

She said after 10 years of CAADP, the continent has taken stock of the performance of agriculture as well as CAADP, and as a result has come up with the next 10 years? vision contained in what is called ?Sustaining the CAADP Momentum?.

She concluded by saying that 2014 has been declared the AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security. As a consequence, African Union Heads of State and Government will meet in July 2014 to take stock of the progress chalked up over the last 10 years and to make recommitments to agriculture.

By Konrad Kodjo Djaisi

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