FAO Regional Office for Africa

Sustainable agriculture is the root of Africa’s economic transformation

FAO looks into agricultural policies that will enable private sector to thrive

Photo: @FAO

15 April 2019, Nairobi — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stressed that Africa must transform or modernize its agriculture, primarily to feed itself and reduce dependency on imports for agricultural and food items, while fostering the sector to drive the industrialization process.

Speaking on the topic, “Accelerating Sustainable, Economic Transformation in Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains,” at the Africa Sustainable Agriculture Summit 2019, held in Nairobi, Kenya, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, David Phiri highlighted that hunger and malnutrition are on the rise again in Africa, after two decades of progress. Africa is now home to over 256 million people who are in dire food insecurity, of which over 132 million are in Eastern Africa.

“Governments should create an enabling policy environment, where the private sector, including in agriculture, thrives and creates jobs, particularly for the youth and women. Agricultural policies that spur farm productivity, commercialization and the agro-processing industry are crucial for agricultural transformation,” Phiri remarked.

Key to Africa’s transformation

John Mukuka, from COMESA’s Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), noted that the key to achieving agricultural transformation on the continent is raising productivity levels without harming the natural resource base on African farms.

 “It is commendable to see many African governments are beginning to look at agriculture through a transformational lens, prioritizing the sector in economic planning, as is stipulated in the African Union’s 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation,” Mukuka added.

Anthony Murithi, Representative of the Kenyan Agriculture and Food Authority, in his opening remarks said that increased domestic demand of agricultural products is the driving force, which will enable Africa to sustainably increase the crop and livestock yields that ultimately feed into the agro-processing industry.

According to Murithi, Governments and private sectors in Africa should boost productivity and running farms as modern businesses, and strengthening the links between farms and other economic sectors in a mutually beneficial process to make sure agriculture is driving Africa’s industrialization.

The first-ever Sustainable Agriculture Summit 2019 and AgTech Africa has discussed emerging developments and highlight best practices, technologies, partnerships and real life experiences. Climate Smart Agriculture, the public private partnership in the agriculture sector, agricultural technologies and financing were among the major issues deliberated during the Summit. Over 200 delegates, representing governments, the private sector, academia and non-government organizations attended the Summit.