African countries must invest in agric— TrustAfrica

•     Investing in agric will transform the continent’s agric sector.

• Investing in agric will transform the continent’s agric sector.

The Executive Director of TrustAfrica, a philanthropic  organisation, Dr. Tendai Murisa, has stressed the need for African countries to invest in capital projects in their various agriculture sectors to boost food production on the continent.

He  said even though some of the African countries which were signatory to the 2003 Maputo Agreement of investing 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in agriculture, the chunk of the budget was spent on salaries and emoluments to the neglect of capital investment.

African governments in 2003 signed the Maputo Agreement to commit at least 10 per cent of their country’s GDP   to agriculture as part of efforts to revamp and modernise the sector.

Dr. Murisa made the call at  a capacity building workshop on smallholder agriculture in Accra on Monday, organised by  SEND-Ghana and funded by TrustAfrica, a Dakar-based organisation with the objective to promote smallholder agriculture in Africa.

The programme which had the theme, “Strengthening the advocacy movement for  equitable smallholder agriculture in Africa,” was attended by  representatives from farmer and civil society  organisations from Ghana, Nigeria,  Burkina Faso, Senegal, South Africa, Malawi and Uganda.

Dr. Murisa, who spoke on the topic, “Trends in agriculture policy making in Africa,” said Africa had enough policies to promote agriculture but what was needed to propel the sector was investment.

According to him even though the Malawian government spent 10 per cent of its GDP on agriculture, a huge chunk of the money was spent on salaries and procurement of vehicles, leaving little for capital investment.

“Agriculture needs multi-sectoral approach to develop the sector.  We need to invest in roads, post-harvest facilities, and extension officers,” Dr. Murisa said.

“We are living in an era of huge opportunities in the agriculture sector,” saying “the agriculture sector is receiving global attention much more than ever before, and partnership was critical to develop the agriculture sector,” he said.

He emphasised the need to “mechanise and introduce low cost technology in smallholder farming”, saying historically smallholder farming had not received much attention like commercial farming.

The Executive Director called for a budget tracking group, which should involve civil society actors, to monitor government budget and promises to the smallholder agricultures sector on the African continent.

The Programme Officer for Strategic Programmes at SEND-Ghana, Nana-Aisha Mohammed said the workshop was to deliberate on works the various organisations had done in smallholder agriculture in their respective countries, adding that the programme would offer the opportunity for the various organisations to align their programme objectives on smallholder agriculture with that of smallholder agriculture industry in Africa.

By Kingsley Asare

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