‘Agriculture is important’

Finding ways on how to build on recent successes in unlocking over $7 billion worth of investment for African smallholder farmers is a top priority of the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa that is being held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 7 to 9 May 2014.

President Kagame (C) and President G. Jonathan during the WEF (Photo: Internet)

President Kagame (C) and President G. Jonathan during the WEF (Photo: Internet)

It is therefore fitting not only that the theme of this meeting is “Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs,” but also that it is taking place at an important time for the continent, the year of agriculture and food security.

It’s really very commendable that African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to transforming the agricultural sector across the continent during the Forum.

“There are huge opportunities in agriculture. This will create jobs and achieve food security,” said Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria. “The key is not just producing enough food for local consumption, but also creating jobs along the value chain.”

The Nigerian president knows well what he is saying; given that huge investment has led his country on top of the richest African countries, according to a recent report. It’s really high time for us Africans to take advantage of our abundant arable lands and human resources (given that Africa has a young population able to use their forces to transform our agriculture).

“We are not here to make agriculture important, it’s in itself important. We are focusing on it to make sure that we maximize the profits for ourselves and for our people,” pointed out Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.

But what is more important, President Kagame noted, is to know what needs to be done and whether people actually do it.

Get more details from President Kagame speaking on Rwanda’s experience during the forum

One priority area that was identified for future action was the issue of gender parity. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union, said: “We are not seeing women emerging as entrepreneurs with increased income: how can you increase production if you do not involve the 50% of women who are our farmers?”

Hopefully these African leaders took note of this question and will act on it to find sustainable solution very soon.

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