Experts urge African governments to increase investments in agriculture

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By Kaleyesus Bekele from Dakar, Senegal  

Experts participating at a high-level meeting on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) called on governments to enhance investments in the agriculture sector and expedite the implementation of the Malabo Declaration.

At the experts’ review meeting that is being held in Dakar, Senegal various stakeholders are reviewing the status of the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs). Experts drawn from various development organizations urged governments to investment more in the agriculture sector and fill the financing gaps. 

It was disclosed that Rwanda is the only country, which is on track and about 20 countries are making progress in achieving the Malabo Declaration. The experts argued that governments should give due attention to agriculture development and food systems given that they are capable of creating employments and transforming the livelihoods of communities.

Mrs. Estherine Fotabong, the Director of Programme Innovation and Planning of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD said that attention should be focused on the implementation of NAIPs since there are already policies and plans in place. “We do not have lack of policies. What we need now is implementation,” she said.

“Deriving from CAADP biennial review and from experience, the continent needs to do more and better to transform the agricultural food system. The cross-pollination of the food system with other sectors makes it a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach to its implementation. About 50 member states have developed their NAIPs and in some countries, they are on the second and third generation of NAIPs but the main issue now is implementation,” Mrs. Estherine Fotabong said.

Participants also discussed the need to enhance the participation of the private sector in transforming the agriculture sector by creating enabling investment environment.

It is to be recalled that in 2003, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), as a policy framework to stimulate and guide the attainment of food security and poverty reduction goals in Africa. To underscore the commitment to agriculture development, the 2003 AU Summit further adopted a resolution to commit at least 10% of the annual public budget to agriculture and rural development and achieve agricultural GDP growth rates of at least 6% per annum.

It was noted that Egypt and Ethiopia have increased investments in their agricultural food systems.  

Ethiopia showcased its impressive experience in boosting wheat production aimed at becoming self-sufficient.  A representative of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture shared the government’s ambitious plan to halt wheat imports and instead start exporting wheat.

Ethiopia produced 6.5 million tons of wheat on 2.1 million hectares of land in the 2020/21 production season, making it the second largest wheat producer in terms of acreage and output in sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa. The crop is produced by about 5 million smallholder farmers, making it the fourth most widely produced crop and taking up about 17% of all the arable land in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia produced 1.4 million tons of wheat on 465,050 hectare of land this year which aims at promoting national wheat self-sufficiency (for local consumption) as well as exports.

The discussants highlighted lack of capability, coordination, accountability, and resource as some of the factors hampering the implementation of NAIPs.

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