Namibian leader urges Africa to end food importation

Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- Africa must move urgently to enhance agricultural efficien cy and reduce external dependence on food aid and imports through increased inve s tments in irrigation and proper land management policies, Namibian President Hif i kepunye Pohamba said here Thursday.
Addressing African leaders, gathered here to discuss the role of agriculture in enhancing Africa’s economic growth, Pohamba called for the actualization of agri c ultural revolution in Africa, noting that the continent had the capacity to prod u ce food for exports.
He said the growing dependence on global imports for food was not acceptable bec ause the continent had the potential to produce enough for its needs and surplus for export.
The Namibian leader challenged his fellow leaders to embark on national and regi onal initiatives to expand agriculture and food production and to increase inves t ment in agriculture, agri-business and rural development with resources from bot h public and private sectors.
According to him, for Africa to achieve goals of enhancing economic growth and f ood security, the priorities contained in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture D e velopment (CAADP), adopted seven years ago by African leaders, must be implement e d with the aim of increasing agricultural productivity.
He said the importance of agriculture was underscored by the fact that it contri buted on average 21 per cent of Africa’s gross domestic product and more than 40 per cent to export value of the continent.
He noted that agriculture also accounted for more that 70 per cent of employment in Africa.
The summit, holding under the theme, “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Grow th and Food security,” has been hailed as a key step for the continent, which su f fered from the effects of the global food crisis, caused by increased demand for grain amid a dwindling global supply.
Smallholder subsistence farmers make up the bulk of the farming population in Af rica and majority of these farmers are women, the Namibian leader said, adding t h at it was evident that the subsistence farmers contribute significantly to agric u ltural production and food security in Africa.
“It is crucial that our intervention as government target this group of farmers in order to improve their production capacity,” he said.
"The main objective of these inventions should aim at the modernization of the s ector through the provision of production technologies, inputs such as fertilize r , marketing and processing infrastructure, as well as technologies to reduce pos t harvest loses,” he stated.
Agriculture is considered to be the engine of economic growth and the mother of industrialization in Africa.
However, the agricultural sector faces many challen g es that limit its capacity to contribute effectively to economic growth and deve l opment.
Experts said the main challenges facing Africa’s agriculture included inequity i n land distribution, land degradation, poor soils, low productivity, change of r a in patterns, a result of climate change.
There is also pressure on the land due to high population growth, inadequate acc ess to financial resources mainly for farmers and poor agricultural technologies which have confined African farmers to rain-fed agriculture.
Outbreaks of crop pests and animal diseases, as well as lack of market and marke ting infrastructure have also been identified as key challenges which need to be addressed to achieve Africa’s agriculture revolution.
Pohamba called on African leaders to join hands as a continent to implement land reform programmes, appropriate financing schemes and strategies that deal with t he effects of climate change.
He said these programmes could only be successful in delivering the desired resu lts if African leaders increased investment in agriculture and channel same to t h ose who work the land.
According him, agricultural production has increased in Africa since the early 1 980s, but Africa has been unable to keep pace with the population growth, a sit u ation that resulted in continued food deficit.
The increase in production is primarily due to increased expansion in cultivated land rather than an increase in productivity per hectare.
Africa's production efficiency remains low and all these factors reduce the cont inent to a net food importer, the Namibian leader said.

02 july 2009 17:39:00

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