African leaders and think tanks on Wednesday issued a common call to push the region’s investments in agriculture to the next level in the next five years.
Despite possessing the biggest chunk of arable land compared to other continents, most African countries still import basic food commodities such as rice and wheat from Asia.
The newly released African Agriculture Status Report points to a steady growth across the continent over the past 10 years, but there is little to celebrate as the continent still spends at least $35 billion (Sh3.5 trillion) on food import every year, and loses another $4 billion (Sh405.6 million) every year due to food wastage.
During the African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi’s Gigir, the use of technology in agriculture, which includes use of fertilisers and hybrid seeds, also emerged among issues that needs to be handled by African governments to catalyse food production.
Fertiliser subsidy projects across African countries, especially in Kenya and Zambia, were praised as having been remarkable over the years, as well as the use of technology such as mobile phone applications to ensure farmers who need the input most access it.
But local policy makers expressed their fear at the slow uptake of important technology that holds the key to stemming hunger. The average use of fertiliser among African farmers is at 10 kilogrammes per acre compared to 210 kilogrammes among Asian farmers.
President Uhuru Kenyatta called on his fellow heads of state to come up with policies to domesticate the Malabo Declaration of committing 10 per cent of the national budget to agriculture development.
“We still have a long way to go despite steady growth recorded by the sector. I would like to propose collective streamlining policies to Malabo commitment and provision of timeline to implement the declaration,” said the President.