Ten years ago, African leaders peered into the future and decided to plan ahead. They agreed to invest at least 10% of their national budgets into Agriculture in what is called the Maputo Declaration. Unfortunately, so far, only a handful of countries have lived up to that promise.
These include Ghana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali and Burkina-Faso. Others, in contrast, are yet to fulfill this agreement. Nigeria, for example, has reduced its allocation annually, with a mere 1.47% allocated to agriculture in the year 2014. The question, therefore, is what needs to be done?
Poverty, hunger, food insecurity and wastage are sadly characteristics that African countries – like Nigeria my country – all have in common. This is indeed sad because Africa is blessed with all we require to feed ourselves and the rest of the world. Aside this is the increasing youth unemployment that is becoming an increasing burden to our economies. All these are issues we all know and have many times discussed. But of course we cannot keep dwelling on problems.
Less talk, more action
So let’s talk about solutions. In my opinion, the examples of successful African countries need to be studied carefully and, if possible, copied. The viable policies, implementation plans, programs and projects underpinning these successes should be replicated especially among countries in the same region with similar socioeconomic conditions. There is also a need to move from paying lip service to actions that show a true sense of commitment to agricultural investment. As a young person I must mention the need for viable empowerment programmes for the youth in agriculture.
Solutions driven policies
Governments need to pay attention to the next generation of farmers who are highly energetic and also interestingly trying to find a path in the sector. This will also help dispel some of the negative impressions around agriculture. Our leaders need to develop solution driven policies that will create an enabling environment for these young people looking to create a future through farming.
They also need to develop partnerships and collaborations with the private sector for the capacity-building of youth and women in agriculture, develop the value chain, improve access to market locally, regionally and globally. Governments also need to be proactive in providing infrastructure that make rural economies beneficial for agri-producers and other rural dwellers. Of course a better ICT-driven extension service that will let all players in the sector have prompt access to needed information is also of high importance.
In investing in agriculture, African countries have a lot to benefit. Poverty alleviation, massive employment generation, women empowerment, foreign exchange and trade, quality nutrition for citizens and of course the ability to not only feed themselves but others. Doing agriculture by increasing investment in the sector should not be an option; it is indeed a necessity that must be paid attention to more than ever before. Our leaders need to move on from just admitting agriculture is important but also take all required action to increase investment and transform the sector. They just have to DO AGRIC.
This blog post by the author was first published on the ONE Campaign website
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