In order for Africa to compete in a developing global bio-economy, the continent must embrace agricultural innovations.
This was highlighted during a two-day forum recently held in Nairobi organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the German government.
“One of the key ingredients to growth in the agriculture sector is attributable to development of technology that fails to be aligned to the needs of the client and effectively fails to compliment national and institutional goals aspirations,” Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Felix Koskei said.
“In particular innovations should be self-perpetuated or be taken up by commercial entities and business the innovations are expected to yield immense socioeconomic benefits and impact productivity income and sustainability of the environment for the small holders.”
During the forum, attended by key dignitaries and agricultural policy makers it was also established that Africa needs to not only improve food security but also ensure sustainable value chain development.
Rhoda Tumusiime, Commissioner for Agriculture at the Africa Union said, “Africa must feed itself and in fact this initiative of scaling up innovation is very critical. One world no hunger Africa should have no hunger because we have the capability, the land the people but as you have also heard only 50 per cent of agriculture productivity is contributed to by innovation.”
With 60 per cent of uncultivated arable land untapped in Africa, agriculture is earmarked as an economic engine for the continent. However, several hurdles are still hindering the continent from achieving its ambitions.
“Despite this huge resources and potential, this continent together with other developing countries are host to 852 million hungry residents who require constant support,” Koskei noted.
Yemi Akinbamijo, executive director, FARA said, “Money is not everything by the way because we have spent more than 150 billion US dollars in the last three decades and we are still where we are and by the way we are spending 50 billion US dollars to borrow foods.”
In 2003 African leaders came together in Maputo, Mozambique and unanimously endorsed a Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa popularly known as the ‘Maputo Declaration’.
In the Maputo Declaration, they agreed to allocate and implement at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to improve food security, reduce poverty, and spur rural development by 2008. Nonetheless, less than a quarter have surpassed this goal.