Africa’s dream of feeding itself would be realised if it takes the modernisation of agriculture seriously, say Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) at a presidential dialogue on leadership for agricultural transformation.
“Agric is a big-money business. Unfortunately, we import what we should produce and that decimates our rural areas,” says Dr Adesina.
But what is to be done? Developing the value chain of key agricultural produce will reduce the huge import bill and to achieve this, he says the AfDB will invest $24billion to feed Africa in the next 10 years.
What is more, there is need to make rural areas agro-processing zones that can attract business activities and to make them attractive, investment in infrastructure such as feeder roads, electricity and provision of farming tools is vital to developing them into bigger markets which could also reduce post-harvest losses.
The AfDB boss emphasised the importance of power to the ‘Feed Africa’ strategy: “Africa should develop value-chains in coffee, tea, cocoa and cotton. But we are stuck in low value-chain due to lack of power which also hinders our industrialisation effort.”
For Senegal’s President Sall, his government embarked on agric modernisation which has made Senegal an exporter of groundnut in just four years with one million metric tonnes produced annually. And Senegal is improving power transmission to integrate the country and had to diversify its energy mix when the country suffered power shortage due to over-dependence on petroleum. From a deficit of 913 hours of power outage, President Sall says Senegal now has 125megawatts of reserve at peak periods
By Osaze Omoragbon