By Paul Alle
ACET is an economic policy institute supporting Africa’s long-term growth through economic transformation. Its report “Agriculture: Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation” served as the base framework of the first Leadership for Agriculture (L4Ag) Forum held on Tuesday 28th November 2017, in Abidjan. The meeting, held at the headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB), brought together several heads of ministerial departments in charge of agriculture as well as departments of the ministries of economy and finance of several African countries.
In his opening address, the AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, exhorted participants to take concrete measures in order to implement policies that aim at developing agriculture. In a very persuasive manner, he pleaded with finance ministers to take bold steps and demonstrate strong commitment towards an effective implementation of agricultural policies.
The Nigerian former Minister of Agriculture, in his brilliant address, demonstrated how agriculture could enable Africa to emerge from her present state of poverty. “Agriculture is the key to feed 9 billion people,” he declared. This continent has 65% of fertile lands for agriculture; thus what Africa will make of agriculture will be key to resolving food problems and guaranteeing food security, Dr. Adesina said. But Africans must change their perceptions about agriculture, Dr. Adesina said. “Agriculture is business, we import each year food products of 35 billion dollars; if we continue, this figure will increase to 110 billion dollars by the year 2030. The continent has no justification to be a food importer if out of the 400 million hectares of savannah only 40 million are exploited. As Brazil has proved by her example, if we utilize our savannah, we will become a superpower. Agriculture is key to achieving macroeconomic stability. Synergetic actions between public institutions or administration on the one hand and the private sector on the other hand are indeed necessary to attain these objectives” he added.
The head of the pan-African financial institution donated an envelope of 1.5 billion dollars (832 billion Francs CFA) from the AfDB to support young farmers in Africa over the next 10 years. He exhorted the leaders of African countries to put in place or create financial systems that will facilitate access to land; notably, in favour of women and the youth.
The L4Ag Forum was organised alongside the Fifth Summit of the “African Union – European Union” held in Abidjan midway last week. This was made possible through a collaborative effort between the African Development Bank (AfDB), Grow Africa, the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) and the Rockefeller Foundation.Original story in French