Put farming first in Africa

I was inpsired by the Guardian article entitled "Put farming first in Africa" and could not but agree with Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda that investing in agriculture is the most efficient way to increase food production and improve food security. This entails more effective policies as well as programmes and projects that deliver.

Agriculture is a major contributor to African countries GDP. The agriculture sector is the main source of employment and 75% of the poor in Africa work and live in rural areas. Increased investment in this sector is paramount if African countries are to reduce rural poverty by 2015 in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Whats more, to achieve that target African agriculture will need to sustain an annual growth rate of at least 6% from now till 2015.

The main challenge for Africas agriculture is to increase productivity in a way that would eliminate food shortages and generate surplus production for markets. To achieve this, Governments must fulfil their earlier commitment to allocate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. The donor community needs to significantly boost official development assistance (ODA) for agriculture.

The challenge requires short, medium and long-term actions:
  • Creating and implementing coherent and better policies
  • Increase agricultural productivity through new technology and more performing inputs
  • Increasing access to financial services, marketing and processing of agricultural goods
  • Developing rural infrastructures
  • Developing secondary and tertiary processing of agricultural products to increase their value
  • Emphasizing the need for greater involvement of women farmers, the main workforce in this sector in Africa

Mohamed Beavogui
Director, Western and Central Africa Division