Agriculture in Africa

Two UN experts have proposed that China further step up investments in Africa’s agricultural development to transform the sector.

“China-Africa agricultural engagement needs to be strengthened because agriculture is the mainstay of the continent’s economy,” Adama Coulibaly, chief of Food Security, Agriculture and Land Section at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), told Xinhua in a recent interview in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where the UNECA is based.

He said Africa needs about 40 billion U.S. dollars per year to transform its agricultural sector, but it’s achieving only 10 billion dollars, a deficit that the international community, including China, can assist in bridging.

Coulibaly said Chinese investments could be more concentrated on shoring up agricultural infrastructure to help smallholder farmers industrialize their farming and add value to their products.

He said these investments could be geared toward supporting climate-smart agriculture as an adaptive and responsive mechanism to impacts of weather extremes currently affecting food production in Africa.

“The agricultural sector is profitable. Most countries that have achieved industrialization have had more investments in agriculture,” Coulibaly said.

James Murombedzi, coordinator of the African Climate Center at UNECA, said there are opportunities for partnerships between China and African countries in increasing productivity anchored on adding value into the agricultural commodities produced in Africa so that they are marketable in external markets.

“Africa produces such crops as coffee, tree crops and cocoa but the main challenge is that it does not control market for these products because of the low value adding process,” he said.

Murombedzi said although there has been a rise in agricultural productivity in the past decade, it has not translated into increased food security in the continent.

“Increasing productivity is not about increasing actual amounts of yields per hectare but rather increasing and improving trade and export of those (yields from crops grown in Africa) commodities,” he said.

Over the last 10 years, growth in the continent’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) has been on average between 2 and 4 percent, but the number of people still living in absolute hunger stands at 239 million, he said.

“We must change this picture of value addition in order to stabilize food security situation in the continent,” he said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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