African governments urged to implement agricultural policies

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Abuja By MOHAMMED MOMOH. African countries have been urged to now implement their policies on agriculture and industrialisation in order to achieve sustainable growth and development.

At the 11th African Economic Conference that concluded Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria, stakeholders noted that the continent had good agricultural and industrial strategies but lacked to actualise them.

The three-day conference was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca).

“There is no African country that does not have policies we have been aspiring for, the missing link is implementation,” said Ayodele Odusola, the chief economist at the UNDP.

He called on African leaders to implement policies on agro-allied industrialisation in order to tackle hunger, poverty and inequality, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But that required a change of mindset, he said.

He said the continent needs to change the way it viewed farming, and see it as a big-time business.

“It is not the kind of subsistence farming that you just produce for your own family. No! It is the type that you produce for the market.

“That is the kind of agriculture we are looking for. But for us to do it, we need to modernise the sector and for the sector to be modernised, a lot of things have to be done,’’ Dr Odusola said.

Africa, he noted, should scale up irrigation facilities, which are currently at about six per cent, and increase the uptake of inputs such as fertilisers, as well as the adaptation of technology.

“We should not be battling with the paradox of food insecurity in the midst of 60 per cent of fertile uncultivated arable land in the world.

“We must be able to use this opportunity to move agriculture forward in the continent,’’ he said.

Adam Elhiraika, the director of macroeconomics at Uneca, said the sector needed greater investment for industrial agriculture to take root while at the same time promoting environmental sustainability.

He called for increased partnership between the private and public sectors.

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