African governments and private sector players are working on investments in agriculture as a key driver of economic growth.
At the recent African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi, presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Paul Kagame of Rwanda together with African Union commissioner Rhode Peace Tumusiime took to the stage to discuss the potential of agriculture in the present and the future. The panel was moderated by KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara.
Mr Oigara: This is a defining moment for Africa. We gather here to rewrite the continent’s agricultural story as we seek investments to end hunger, improve nutrition and drive growth. President Kagame, your country has made tremendous strides in agriculture. What is your vision for Rwanda and the continent?
In Rwanda, 70 per cent of the population is involved in agriculture and contributes 32 per cent of our GDP. Knowing that there is great potential in agriculture we have done a number of things: Crop intensification, better land management, utilisation of technologies, and provision of improved seeds and other inputs. Women and youth who have been the backbone of agriculture are transforming the sector.
Madam Tumusiime, what is the vision for agricultural transformation at the African Union?
We have several decisions, declarations, and implementation strategies. We are creating platforms, setting standards and implementing what the heads of state and governments ask us to do. We want action on the ground and we shall drive this process. How can we drive the process of Malabo [to reach the agriculture goals to be attained by 2025]?
We have put together a robust work plan, together with the member states and at the country level, which the countries are ready to implement. We have devolved tools of accountability, where the heads of state will come together every two years to say where they are in implementing Malabo. We aim to achieve the transformation we want in agriculture on the continent.
President Kenyatta, you have focused on engaging the youth. How do you look at this as a driver for transformation?
Our demographics show that we have a youthful population. And we are still talking about the need for the continent to be food secure. We’re talking about a Green Revolution. We have the workforce, and we need to engage them in agriculture to sort out our food security.
The problem is, how do we facilitate these young people to be gainfully engaged in agriculture? How do we assist them with new technology, innovations, not just for subsistence but as a viable business? I think every African has either been educated or brought up on the proceeds of agriculture.
Every person in this group can call themselves a farmer. But we have not given it the focus that we need to. Even as we say there is a role for governments to create an enabling environment by creating the necessary policy framework to encourage agriculture, we have to ask how we partner with others, especially the private sector, because governments do not have the resources to do it by themselves. We can work with development partners and others to see how we can de-risk agriculture by boosting insurance coverage.
Innovation without finance isn’t going to cut it. We need greater partnerships with all stakeholders, including KCB.
What are your thoughts, President Kagame?
There is a long value chain in agriculture, right from the farmers to the consumer. We need to find out how the young people fit into this value chain. Everybody should make a profit. Agriculture is an industry where serious business is taking place, so that we improve everything from the farmer, to the inputs, to improved methods of farming, storage and harvest; the whole process up to the market.