Agriculture ministers from key African countries speak to Down To Earth on strategies to make Africa food-sufficient once again
Willy Bett, Kenya
"Agriculture has to be made relevant and lucrative to the youth in Africa. In Kenya, we have introduced a programme to increase youth's access to productive lands through lease so that they can take up agribusiness. Also, the produce of small farmers must have an assured market. We should introduce programmes like the Food Acquisition Programme to create demand as well as to stabilise market prices for products from small-scale farmers. We need to change our approach, from just food to food security in all related programmes."
Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana
"Ghana is implementing the Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign to revive agriculture. The campaign's five pillars are focusing on seed, fertiliser, extension services, marketing and e-agriculture platform. Despite having fertile lands, food is unnecessarily expensive in our country. Our production methods are not modern and income levels of farmers and fisherfolk remain low, making the sector unattractive to the youth as a viable means of livelihood."
Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria
"African countries must set a target, as we have done, to achieve food self-sufficiency by using local staple by 2018. To make agriculture relevant means that we must increase its share in our national GDP. For this, we have a target of four years. Crops that are popular in other countries should be encouraged for export. This earning can be used for other developmental programmes."
Joseph Made, Zimbabwe
"The government must focus on bringing back the agriculture trade balance. Our programmes, like the Food Security and Nutrition, are examples of how to think strategically to become food sufficient. African governments must urgently formulate policies to improve agricultural productivity. As we have done in our country, we must start with one staple crop and then spread the programme to other crops to increase productivity."
Joseph Mwanamveka, Malawi
"Malawi has met its targets under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme for budgetary allocations to agriculture and for agricultural growth. The impact was instant. In 2005, Malawi recorded a grain surplus of half a million tonnes. In subsequent years, we exported grain to Lesotho and Swaziland, as well as 400,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe. We must move away from sustenance to market-oriented agriculture. This will increase agricultural production, create a market for surplus crops and this will ultimately lead to real income growth."
The article was first published in Sep 1-15 issue of Down To Earth magazine
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