The United Nation’s Development Programme UNDP), on Monday in Abuja said it is ready support efforts at fashioning a home grown agenda for Africa’s socio-economic transformation through a strong collaboration among stakeholders to move from being a global consumer to a global producer.
According Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Secretary-General at the UN, who is also UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, the continent must focus attention on agro-allied industrialization that is inclusive and leaves no one behind.
He alligned with the “great vision of the African Development Bank President in promoting the High Fives agenda —Powering Africa, Feeding Africa, Industrializing Africa, Integrating Africa, and Improving the quality of life for the people of Africa. This must all be done in the context of reforms that provide more equal and sustainable access to land and protect the rights of marginalized people. The reforms must also expand access to information, technology and agricultural inputs for women and men in all regions and countries.”
Dieye who spoke at the opening of a three-day 11th edition of the African Economic Conference, on the theme, “Feeding Africa: Towards Agro – Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth,” said the UNDP is encouraging inclusive agro-allied industrialisation
This is being actively promoted, he added, actively promoting through “inclusive agro-allied industrialisation through support to access to finance, technology and developing local and regional value chains.
“We have supported Multi-stakeholder Platforms at the sub-regional level, in partnership with Regional Economic Commissions to strengthen the design of specific regional agricultural value chains,” he added, lamenting a situation where spends about $35 billion as a net food importer.
This, he continued, is a paradox, considering the fact that the continent is still largely agrarian with seven of ten people employed in the agric sector.
He lamented a situation where a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is still suffering from hunger, despite its 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land (about 60 percent of the global total).
factor responsible for African agriculture’s under-performance and low productivity, he said includes the fact that a large proportion of it still depends on rain, instead of irrigation, unlike south Asia with 46%.
Besides the slow growth in productivity, due to Africa’s under-investment or under-capitalization in terms of technology, information, infrastructure, and fractured markets, urban-biased development policies continue to exacerbate rural poverty.
This has naturally resulted in “rural-urban migration, increased urban informal economies, and urban poverty.”
Also, he said “under-performing agriculture is stifling the effective functioning of the industrial sector. Consequently, this has resulted in the second paradox – weak linkage between the agricultural and industrial sectors, in the face of a myriad of opportunities. Africa, more than any other developing region, has a huge potential for agro-allied transformation. This includes hosting a large spectrum of suitable agro-climatic conditions that allow a broad range of agricultural production.”
He therefore nation’s in the continent to invest more strategically to escape the low productivity trap, adding that “unless agriculture is fully transformed, Africa will remain trapped in a low productivity cycle. The continent will be unable to provide the impetus for agro-allied industrialization and local manufacturing that creates employment and livelihood opportunities for a youthful and growing population.”
The UNDP boss urged African countries “to increase investment in agriculture, as clearly articulated in the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security and re-confirmed in the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.”
Using agriculture to power industrialization, he stressed, “calls for a strong public-private sector partnership that increases small farm holders’ productivity and enhances their contribution to national and regional value chains. As a matter of urgency, African governments must establish policies that accelerate public and private investments in agriculture, stimulate innovation and reduce risk.
“We must also be ready to be creative and innovative. Agriculture should not be just a ‘way of life’ but a ‘business enterprise’. While commercial farming has a role to play, it is not the panacea. Large companies and commercial farms must develop and implement strategies to increase smallholders’ share of market access, as well as their use of improved seed varieties and advanced farming techniques. The State has a strong role in making this happen,” he stressed further.
He called for regional integration to harness “the power of greater regional integration, through regional and global value chains, is critical to achieving economic diversification, competitiveness, technology, and knowledge transfer. This is particularly important for land-locked countries.
“African governments must work together with their bilateral and multilateral partners to support the agro-allied industrialization agenda. In this regard, developed and emerging countries must work to remove unfair trade barriers, eliminate harmful agricultural export subsidies, and reduce regional protectionism that limits Africa’s access to markets and makes the continent a dumping ground.”