Investing In Agriculture Key To Reducing Poverty, driving growth and development in Africa

Investing In Agriculture Key To Reducing Poverty, driving growth and development in Africa

Most Africans earn a living from agriculture but for many, transitioning from subsistence farming to commercialization of their operations will require governments to invest in agriculture, Jane Karuku told an audience this week at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. Karuku is the Kenyan president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Investment in Africa’s agriculture will help reduce poverty and increase growth and development on the continent, Karuku said in a story in VibeGhana.

Karuku attended the forum with AGRA Vice Chairman Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless. They called on global leaders to recognize agriculture’s rightful place – at the heart of Africa’s growth.

Smallholder farmers should be empowered to sell their own produce at market, Karuku said. She called on African governments to address unfriendly business environments that prevent smallholder farmers from commercializing their operations and moving beyond subsistence.

Smallholder farmers in Africa should have more opportunities than challenges, Karuku said in the article. “Governments have a big role to play…We need to ensure that farmers have access to inputs like improved seeds, but they must also be empowered to sell their own produce on markets.” Africa is showing progress but the biggest contribution to reducing poverty will have to come from the agricultural sector – the sector in which most Africans earn their livelihoods, Karuku said.

In 2003, African governments agreed to invest at least 10 percent of their national budgets in agriculture and to raise agricultural productivity by at least 6 percent, according to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme established by the African Union.

The program focuses on improving food security, nutrition, and increasing incomes in Africa’s largely farming-based economies, according to the CAADP website.

By 2010, just eight African countries had met the pledge but many were making progress.

“How we can deliver on Africa’s promise? The answer is that agriculture must be at the heart of our efforts,” Masiyiwa said in the article. “Governments must become much more courageous on this issue, especially when it comes to land rights, the policy environment, and access to finance and infrastructure.”

This would require governments and other stakeholders to speak to private investors so that they understand the business environment, regulatory hurdles and incentives, Masiyiwa said.