African Countries have been called upon to strengthen partnerships that would provide the needed resources and technologies to support farmers on the continent to boost food production.
Mrs Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission (AUC), who made the call, said such partnerships were critical to ensure that farmers were well equipped with the right farming practices, through technological innovation, storage and market accessibility.
Speaking at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) pre-plenary meetings, a side event of the ongoing 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW), being hosted in Ghana, Mrs Tumusiime said because the need and demand for food was critical in the world, food production needed to be given a boost by all member countries.
The week-long programme, being attended by about 1,200 delegates, including ministers of agriculture, science and technology, researchers, farmers, extensionists, civil society and development partners, is being organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in collaboration with the Government of Ghana in Accra. President John Dramani Mahama was expected to open the Week on July 18, anchored by the theme: “Africa Feeding Africa through Agricultural Science and Innovation.”
Mrs Tumusiime said food and nutrition security remained key challenges in Africa as the demand for food continues to increase globally, putting much pressure on African farmers to increase food production. She said the African Union with its commitment agenda to transform the income of all Africans, would continue to support, particularly, small scale farmers and women farmers with the technologies in improving food production.
Professor Idah Sithole-Niang, Chair, AATF Board, said the Foundation, established 10 years ago, was poised to discuss and combine technologies, partnerships and smallholders as the nerve centre of agriculture development in Africa.
“I believe encouraging utilization of technologies that have the potential for making a difference, enhancing goal-directed and focussed effective partnerships and keeping our smallholder farmers in sight will deliver results in our quest for better agriculture in Africa”, Prof Sithole-Niang said.
Dr Denis Tumwesigye Kyetere, Executive Director, AATF in a presentation said various projects like Cassava Mechanisation and Agro Processing (CAMAP) machines being introduced in countries were helping most farmers to improve crop production. He said Nigeria and Zambia were among countries benefiting from the cassava mechanisation project, which helps in accelerating planting, harvesting and processing cassava crops and that other countries would soon be brought on board to help improve the lots of farmers. Another project being undertaken by the AATF is a seed distribution programme that ensures seeds are available at the right time, place, price and of the right quality.
Dr Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary, The Global Forum on Agricultural Research said public–private partnership was key in ensuring agricultural development in Africa. He said women, who form almost 50 percent of farmers in Africa, received 10 percent of incomes and five percent of technical assistance in agriculture, must also be considered and given the assistance needed to boost their production. He called on Africa to invest more in agricultural production as well as modernised agriculture to help do away with the endless urbanisation and overpopulation in African cities.