Agriculture Powering African Transformation

By Qondi Moyo

Strong sustained economic growth is a key challenge for the African continent. As discussed in a recent IFPRI volume, economic convergence among poor and rich countries has not happened as quickly as was theorized. The African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) convened the 2018 African Transformation Forum (ATF) on 20-21 June 2018 in Accra, Ghana to discuss strategies to support transformation and action steps.

The Forum brought together heads of state, policymakers, civil society, private sector actors and development partners from across the continent. The first ATF held in Kigali in 2016 established the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), which includes chapters on key issues driving economic transformation – Agriculture, Extractives, Light Manufacturing, Skills Development and Youth Training, and Resource Mobilization and Management.

According to IFPRI research, economic growth requires structural change—movement from low-productivity activities into modern, more productive industries—along with strong investment in human capital and institutions (read more in this volume). Transforming the agricultural sector is central to structural change, however in Ghana this process has moved slowly. Ghana’s agriculture sector employs 60.6% of the population and yet contributes just 33.5% to GDP. Additionally, the agriculture sector continues to present low yields marked by low usage of fertilizers and modern inputs.

IFPRI participated in ATF2018 working sessions on Agriculture, which focused on four main priorities: agro-processing, markets, skills development and land tenure. The discussion centered on how to promote harmonized industrial and agricultural policies to improve job creation, agricultural modernization, competitiveness, and overall growth with development. Participants also discussed the need for government to create an enabling environment for agricultural transformation with the state as facilitator and the private sector as actor. Some recommendations made were to:

  • make agriculture a priority and communicate its investment potential;
  • develop agro-processing and value addition with a wider use of science and new technology;
  • use a demand-driven approach to agricultural production as missing/small markets are often a huge limitation;
  • adopt a multisectoral policy approach across several ministries (i.e. finance, trade, transport, industry, education);
  • promote land reform and water related issues for improving security and access to fertile lands;
  • use innovative financing and risk mitigation mechanisms;
  • improving quality and reducing post harvest losses (which could be aided by warehousing), as well as food safety in production & packaging was key
  • balance upstream and downstream activities;
  • better understand the link between agriculture and nutrition and health and the importance of community level interventions; and
  • improve the quality and availability of data and evidence.

The forum concluded with a conversation between heads of state and private sector CEOs, stressing the importance of public and private partnerships. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana highlighted the centrality of the business community in developed countries and their impact on investment for development. Rwandan President Paul Kagame stressed the need for investments in people, government structures and partnerships. Aliko Dangote, Chairman & CEO of Dangote Group, emphasized the need for a good investment climate for businesses and the importance of good leadership to promote this. In general, the need to strengthen partnerships and clearly define roles for all stakeholders was apparent. Attendees of the forum supported a pan-African approach to transformation, which would require greater regional integration.

Qondi Moyo is a research analyst at IFPRI’s Ghana Strategy Support Program (GSSP)

This blog was first published by IFPRI Ghana

 

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