Thursday, February 19, 2009

AGRA urges African countries to prioritise food security

AGRA urges African countries to prioritise food security
Written by Florence Bupe
Thursday, February 19, 2009 7:48:44 AM

THE Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has urged African countries to prioritise food security for the attainment of sustainable economic and social independence.

AGRA vice-president Dr Akinwumi Adesina told delegates at the just-ended high level meeting on African Agriculture in Namibia that no nation could claim true independence unless it was able to secure its own food supplies.

“Africa must now start to view food security with the same priority given to national security. After all, no nation farms out on its national defence to the market,” he said.

The high level meeting was aimed at revitalising African agriculture at a time when the continent is feeling the impact of the global financial crisis.

The meeting pledged to engage the continent’s decision makers on key challenges to agriculture and rural development in Africa, as well as steps that could be taken to support a more viable agriculture sector.

Currently, statistics indicate that more than 300 million Africans face chronic hunger, partly as a result of the rise in food prices, which has driven more people into deeper poverty levels.

Dr Adesina said the continent needed a green revolution to increase productivity and incomes earned by small- scale farmers.

He cited Asia as one continent that had made a turnaround in agricultural productivity through the adoption of the green revolution.

“Experience from the Asian green revolution shows that countries can turn around from being on the brink of mass starvation to becoming major food exporters,” he said.

Dr Adesina further called for increased agriculture sector research and development on a wider range of crops and farming systems.

He said there was need for Africa to effectively use its natural and human resources in order to become an agricultural power house.

“If Africa is able to utilise effectively its natural, human and technological resources, it can become an agricultural powerhouse in decades to come, feeding its own people and sustainably growing biofuels to meet its energy needs and supplying the rapidly growing workload, food and other agricultural markets,” said Dr Adesina.

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