Forum accentuates need for transforming Africa's agriculture

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Addis Ababa, 3 September 2014 (WIC) - As the 4th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) opened here yesterday at the Africa Union Hall, Agriculture Minister Tefera Derbew said agriculture is the mainstay of the economy for the continent which needs due emphasis.

In order to enhance agricultural productivity, food security, exports and jobs creation, agricultural inputs need to provided to farmers timely and properly. In addition, infrastructural development plays a crucial role in modernizing the sector.

Emphasizing the significance of the Forum as an open policy dialogue among various stakeholders in the continent, Tefera said that in Africa smallholder farmers play a dominant role in ensuring food security and employing the vast majority of population.

To enable farmers improve their living conditions in the situation of pervasive rural poverty the application of scientific knowledge and the provision of credit is vital.
According to Tefera, though the sector is the backbone of Ethiopian economy, it only contributes 20 per cent to the export and 60 per cent to job creation.

Furthermore, the sector is vulnerable to erratic rains and extreme weather. Thus, to overcome the problem countries must apply adaptation and mitigation mechanisms at the grassroots level.

As part of its effort to boost productivity, the government has been working to introduce market-oriented farming to farmers. The establishment of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is a case in point and could be an exemplary for Africa, Tefera said.

The African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma also said that the main objective of the establishment of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is to provide the necessary scientific research output to transform agriculture sector in the continent of Africa.

She also said that due to scarcity of food and weak agricultural system many children in Africa are stunted as the result in their school years they will be ineffective and their cognitive power became poor.

She further said: "The secret of rural poverty is nothing but the backward system of Agriculture. Thus, to break such vicious circle, scientific knowledge and modern input must be utilized. To this end, governmental and non-governmental organizations, financial institutions,agribusiness companies, farmers associations and other stakeholders must contribute part towards achieving the objectives of agricultural transformation."

Dr. Zuma also noted that 50 years ago countries like Japan, South Korea,Taiwan and Singapore were at the level of subsistence farming, now their farm is industrialized to reach to this stage as they devoted their time, money, energy and formulated conducive policy. Thus, based on the reality on the ground Africa must draw lessons from these countries.(EH)