African governments urged to scale up investments in agriculture

African governments have been advised to scale up investments in the agriculture sector to enhance productivity and ensure food security on the continent. These were the remarks made at the opening of the second African Union Private Sector and Agribusiness Forum in Kigali, Thursday.

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the Africa Union Commissioner in charge of Rural Economy and Agriculture said the initiative must be done in a more inclusive and sustainable manner. The 2-day annual conference brings together more than 100 agronomists, policy makers, business leaders, farmers and development partners from across Africa. It is expected to lay a concrete foundation for the transformation of agriculture across the content.

Ms. Tumusiime noted that doubling agro productivity will transform the continent’s economic growth. Agro business, she said, is poised for global growth however, both public and the private sector must complement each other for Africa to benefit from this growth:

More resources will have to be extended to women and youth along the value chain to enable them to transform the sector.

African governments are spending more than US$40B annually on food importation and yet food can locally be produced on the continent. Tumusiime added:

If we are to take agriculture as a business, it has to be well funded and streamlined from a multi-sectoral perspective.

As part of the sustained Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the African Union Commission has spearheaded efforts to engage the private sector in identifying opportunities for their increased participation in agricultural value chains in Africa.

We have also highlighted and underscored the need to strengthen private sector participation in the program as part of expansion and strengthening agribusiness in African agricultural value chains.

Rwanda’s Agriculture minister, Gerardine Mukeshimana, said there is need to turn the sector into a market oriented entity through increased resource mobilization. Agro business will grow faster only if the private sector takes a leading role, Mukeshimana adds:

We must do more to connect farmers with buyers through rural infrastructure development, technical training and most importantly scale up our budget allocations to the sector for sustained economic growth.

Rwanda was the 1st  country to sign up for CAADP, and more than 10% of the national budget goes to agriculture in order to stimulate its growth. In Africa, agriculture employs more than 80% and contributes 20% of the continent’s total exports and more than 40% total GDP. In Rwanda, the sector grew by 5% and contributed 1.5 percentage pts to the overall GDP growth during Q-2 of Y 2014.

Overall, the entire sector employs about 80% of citizens contributed 33% of the country’s economic growth.

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