Kagame urges African countries to chart ways to transform agriculture

President Paul Kagame has stressed the need to unwaveringly promote agriculture on African continent to tackle over-reliance on food imports, end malnutrition and create new jobs in the food economy.

He made the call on Monday 26th July 2021during UN Food Systems Summit Pre-Summit organized by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres aimed at seeking together need actions for the World to achieve envisaged 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

As the Chair of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, Kagame said that agriculture plays a major role in helping Africa to overcome effects of COVID-19.

“Agriculture and agri-business, especially in Africa, will drive our attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is especially true as we work to make up for the time lost to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he revealed.

The President urged each country and region to chart its own pathway to transformation but highlighted that ‘it is also a global challenge that we must address together’.

He stressed the need to strive for holistic approaches to ensure that farmers benefit from available technologies and financial services for the agriculture sector to thrive and cope with high levels of economic risk and uncertainty.

“In Africa, 70% of the working-age population is employed in the agricultural sector. But our continent’s food markets are often fragmented, and links to food processing and value addition services are sometimes lacking,” he said.

“Digital technologies and biotechnology are playing a greater role in African agriculture, but too many farmers do not yet have reliable access. Financial services and products for farmers, including insurance, are generally inadequate. As a result, Africa’s food producers do not earn the level of income that they deserve, and they must cope with high levels of economic risk and uncertainty. Transformation is a necessity,” added Kagame.

To address these challenges facing agriculture on African continent, Kagame explained that the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD) has set broad action plans.

These include nutritious food policies, establishing food reserves, and expanding school feeding programs, supporting local markets and food supply chains, investing in agro-processing for healthy foods and expanding trade in food products within Africa, working to increase agricultural financing to 10% of public expenditure with a focus on research, innovation, and environmental sustainability; facilitating smallholder farmers, encouraging cooperatives, and ensuring women’s access to productive resources.

Others include expansion of social safety net programs and investment in climate early warning data systems.

Kagame revealed that accountability for advancing these actions will be integrated into existing continental monitoring mechanisms, including regular reviews under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP).

He further stressed that they will help to reduce imported agricultural produce.

“For Africa, the central goal is to halt our continent’s over-reliance on food imports, end malnutrition, and create millions of new jobs in the food economy. In doing so, we will strike the right balance between people and planet,” he said.

Africa spends US$35 billion on agricultural produce imports expected to increase to US$110 billion in the next five years if no action is taken.

The Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit was organized to set the stage for the culminating global event in September by bringing together diverse actors from around the world to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In partnership with the Government of Italy, the Pre-Summit is taking place in Rome from 26–28 July 2021. The event, which is open to all who would like to participate, takes a hybrid format, with an in-person component complemented by a vast virtual programme and platform.

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