By Steve Agbota
THE President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said the bill for food imports in Africa is now $35 billion annually.
According to him, this should encourage Africans to develop their agricultural sector and channel the amount for food imports into something else.
However, he emphasised that food, in quantity and quality, is the right of every human being, saying that what is most important is the safety of the belly.
Adesina, who stated this at the just-concluded conference on agriculture and agribusiness in Dakar, Senegal, said Africa is ready to put agriculture in a commercial enterprise – a transformation that requires the diversification of the agricultural sector.
The AfDB president is convinced that Africa has to be the breadbasket of the world. “However, in order to achieve this, she must release her full potential and make a radical transformation of agriculture.”
Speaking on the food imports bill, he called on the central banks and development banks to lend to the agriculture sector.
He said giving credit to agriculture is profitable while also urging the banks to invest in rural infrastructure.
“We must modernise agriculture in Africa. This will enable the youths to invest their energy in the sector. To address this, there is need for investment and development of the processing sector, which helps to reinforce food security, reduce poverty, boost exports and promote economic growth.”
He appealed to all Africans to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and position Africa in the global value chain.
The AfDB president said the agricultural sector has four times than any other sector, the power to create jobs and reduce poverty.
He added: “That is why we make the claim that we can diminish the migrant crisis in Europe by supporting agricultural transformation in Africa.
“It is time that ministers of Finance across the continent see the sector for what it is: the sector with the best potential to bring about macro-economic and fiscal stabilisation.
“Feeding the estimated nine billion people in the world by 2050 will depend on how Africa capitalises on having 65 per cent of the world’s remaining arable land. By raising agricultural productivity, modernising agriculture, developing agro-allied industries and investing in value-added processing for agricultural commodities, Africa can unlock its agricultural potential.”
Source : SunOnline