After a robust opening session of the second global conference on biofortification taking place in Kigali, the second day of the conference has been marked by different activities including consultative sessions where experts, policymakers and farmers got chance to share their views.
The key speaker who concluded activities of the day was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
It was not the first time to follow this highly-skilled eloquent speaker – in fact, he has been key speaker in many major international conferences taking place here in Kigali for some time.
Dr Adesina highlighted the existing disconnect between rising global wealth and persistent poverty – an underlying cause of poor nutrition.
“People eat food, not GDP,” he emphasized last night in a rousing keynote address at the end of Day Two of the Global Consultation on Getting Nutritious Foods to People.
Globally recognized for his efforts in improving African agriculture through innovative technology, Dr. Adesina shared his views with participants on how malnutrition and poverty can be ended in Africa.
In his keynote address, the Nigerian minister thanked the government of Rwanda for having hosted the very important conference that took place in the country for the first time on the African continent.
“Your support for this important conference is a testimony of your exemplary leadership that President Paul Kagame continues to demonstrate in matters affecting health and welfare of good people of Rwanda, and also in Africa,” he pointed out, thanking Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Agnes Kalibata, for co-organizing and hosting the conference
During the nearly a half hour keynote address, it was highlighted that while Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done great job in reducing global poverty, nearly 50% of the world population still live below poverty line. And Malnutrition is a cause of deaths of about 45% of children under 5 years old.
Malnutrition, especially lack of essential minerals and vitamins, noted Dr Adesina, causes major challenges on the African continent. It is estimated that 12 Africans die every minute as a result of hunger and malnutrition. Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world while65% of arable land in the world is in Africa. 80% of stunted children in the world live just in 14 countries, including 8 African countries.
“This is not a pretty picture, at all!” he pointed out. “For Africa to succeed in lifting millions of people out of poverty it should create a model of sharing wealth and prosperity, it must focus on transforming its rural economies. And the way to do this is to transform agriculture. In other words, we should make our rural economies, the new wealth economies.”
According to the Nigerian minister, a major reason for higher rural poverty and malnutrition in Africa is the poor performance of agriculture in Africa while it is the main source of livelihoods for the majority of the poor.
“To turn things around, we must stop considering agriculture as a development program, but as a business,” he said.
Dr Adena went on giving his suggestions on what can be done to turn the current situation. His suggestions include building major political will behind nutrient crops, using political leaders as nutrient champions. He also noted that Africa should focus on improving technology system delivery to farmers, especially extension services to improve the knowledge of farmers on nutrient crops.
Watch the short video below for highlights of Dr Adesina’s full speech: