President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Dakar urged African leaders to demonstrate political will and re-commit themselves to the transformation of agriculture in the continent.
In his goodwill message to the Feed Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government, the President called on his counterparts to embrace innovative policies that ensure the continent’s citizens eat what they produce as well as export the surplus.
President Buhari also welcomed the provision of $538.05 million by the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development for the first phase of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) for Nigeria program.
With rising inflation globally and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that have driven up food prices, especially for basic staples such as wheat and maize, the Nigerian leader listed measures that African leaders must take to change the status quo.
‘‘Feeding Africa is imperative. We must ensure that we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future. The starting point is to raise agricultural productivity. This requires the access of farmers to quality farm inputs, especially improved seeds, and fertilizers and mechanization. To succeed, we must strongly support farmers. There is no doubt that we need to subsidize our farmers, but we must do so in ways that are transparent, remove rent seeking behavior and effectively deliver support to farmers.
‘‘The share of budget allocation to agriculture should be increased across Africa, especially for investments in critical public goods, such as research and development, infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, and energy.
‘‘As leaders, let us decisively ensure that we meet the 10% allocation of our budgets to agriculture as agreed in the Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government.
‘‘We must reduce the rate of rural to urban migration through the development of rural areas,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the future of agriculture in Africa would depend on getting more youth into agriculture, which means making agriculture attractive for them.
‘‘To feed Africa, we need younger male and female farmers. We must also ensure that they get access to land, finance, technologies, information, and markets.’’
The Nigerian leader, therefore, requested that the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts arising from the Summit must address ways to improve the empowerment of the youth and women in agriculture.
‘‘We must take into consideration climate change and ensure that agricultural systems are climate-smart and climate-resilient.
‘‘We must invest heavily in irrigation to help address the increasing frequency of droughts that are leading to declining in crop yields.
‘‘I am convinced that the very targeted and bold approach of using the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts will allow Africa to finally break through and feed itself.
‘‘Feeding Africa is not negotiable. Africa must grow what her citizens eat. As leaders, we must demonstrate political will and re- commit ourselves to producing for the continent’s needs, including surpluses for export,’’ he said.
The President applauded the efforts of the African Development Bank to launch SAPZ, recounting that he had launched the scheme in Nigeria in October 2022.