By Abdallah el-Kurebe
In ending poverty in Africa, one overriding theme in declarations is “the need for modernization and optimization of Africa’s agriculture. At the same time, it ensures the productivity of the very ecosystems that underpin agricultural productivity are safeguarded for future generations,” editorial of African Development magazine.
Ending poverty in Africa requires strict adherence to continental blueprints, which include Mapoto and Malabo and AMCEN Cairo Declarations, the AU Agenda 2063, etc.
Although FAO views Africa as having strode in tackling hunger by a 30 percent propotional drop of its people that were facing hunger between the period of 1990-2015, challenges such as climate change, conflict and social inequality still stand in the way of the continent’s quest for a future that would be free from hunger and want.
During FAO’s 29th Regional Conference for Africa (ARC), its Director General, Jose Graziano da Silva called on the regional governments to continue to work together in order to harness the power of the food and agriculture sector as a catalyst for inclusive growth, poverty reduction and fighting hunger.
“In spite of the many hurdles along the way, I urge you to look at how far we have come in the journey to end hunger in our lifetimes,” he stated in his speech at the Conference.
As da Silva posited, to end hunger in the continent, regional governments must push for a fundamental shift in the orientation of Africa’s agricultural and rural development towards transforming the lives of Africans begun under the 2014 Malabo Declaration and outlined in the Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Farmers should be provided with seeds, tools, and other support that are vital to maintain and strengthen their ability to produce food and earn income. They must transit from being ‘hungry farmers’ to becoming nations’ feeders.
Delivering on the 2025 Zero Hunger challenge as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the DG, required the efforts of an alliance of partners and that “FAO stands ready to support African member states in the delivery of the SDGs in firm collaboration with the African Union, other regional institutions and humanitarian and development partners.”
Bukar Tijani, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa (ADG-RRF) of FAO in an exclusive interview, stressed the Organisation’s commitment to the eradication of hunger.
“The eradication of hunger remains at the heart of FAO’s mission. To date, the organization has helped to deliver more than 90 agriculture and food investment projects across 40 countries, and these figures will continue to grow,” he said.
Tijani disclosed that the organization had assisted in policy formulation, design and implementation of the ECOWAS Zero Hunger Initiative as well as the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) in order to address food security and nutrition.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, created to provide financial initiatives aimed at strengthening food security in Africa. This is by “eradicating hunger and malnutrition; eliminating rural poverty; managing natural resources in a sustainable manner; boosting efforts to eradicate hunger; widen market access, and support income and employment generation.”
It therefore means that while projects are being put in place to assist the continent in eradicating hunger by 2025, leaders should integrate thier initiatives for definitive and desisive fight against hunger. To do this, all incentives, inputs and tools must be made available to farmers; policies must be all-encompassing and favourable for the teeming farming populace.
Science for agriculture
There is no doubts that there are hungry farmers in Africa, most of who are smallholders. This is a negative sign against the eradication of hunger in the continent. Producers of food must, themselves, not be seen to be hungry.
The leaders should be more diligent and show more patriotic determination to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. Those that are still operating their systems on non agricultural economy should rethink their positions and diversify.
In Nigeria, President Buhari for realising that a mono-product economy was not the best for Africa, specifically Nigeria. “We made a terrible mistake by becoming mono-product economy hinged on oil and we are now in a volatile situation due to the crash in oil prices. We are now fully committed to economic diversification,” he posited.
Unlike the old times, agriculture should be moduled beyond subsistence. It should include the business components in it so that farmers could earn more money from it.
As portrayed by former president Obasanjo, agribusiness would not only end hunger and malnutrition but a means of generating income. He sees innovation and modern farming methods as a catalysts for agricultural development.
“We see agribusiness as Africa’s biggest opportunity to not only end hunger and malnutrition, but also as Africa’s best hope for generating income and employment, particularly in rural regions. But to achieve its potential, African agriculture needs a fresh infusion of innovation and talent.
“Today’s farmers need: improved crop varieties that resist diseases and tolerate drought; access to modern inputs, such as fertilizers; affordable credits; and, extension services that keep us knowledgeable of sustainable farming practices. But more than anything, Africa needs people. Specifically, we need Africa’s best and brightest to embrace agriculture as a calling and a career,” the former president said.
African youth must be made to embrace farming by way of making it less strenous. This will help the ageing population who are no longer strong enough to produce enough food for the overgrowing population.