Programme to Turn Africa Into Producer and Exporter of Food Launched

By Iminza Keboge
Published October 30, 2017

Akinwumi Adesina, winner of the World Food Prize 2017 and President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is leading the initiative says though the African savannah covers 600 million hectares of which 400 million hectares are cultivable, only 10% of this is cultivated, a mere 40 million hectares.An initiative aimed at turning Africa into a net producer and exporter of agricultural produce has been launched.

The project, that is being piloted in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique, Congo-Kinshasa, Central African Republic, Guinea and Ghana will see two million hectares of savannah under the cultivation of maize, soybean, and livestock production in optimum conditions with the objective of doubling production in these eight countries.

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, winner of the World Food Prize 2017 and President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is leading the initiative says though the African savannah covers 600 million hectares of which 400 million hectares are cultivable, only 10% of this is cultivated, a mere 40 million hectares.

The 2017 World Food Prize Laureate noted that Africa’s savannah is better than the savannah of Brazil, a country notable for turning its savannah into agricultural wealth, saying Africa’s soils were not acidic and therefore did not need liming which had to be done at massive scales in Brazil.

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“Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere, while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa. We must ensure that small, medium-scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for all,” Adesina said.

Adesina explains that partnerships in research and development will be crucial, saying that AfDB is working with organisations with proven track records in tropical agriculture from South America.He named some of them as Brazilian Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), Agricultural Corporation of Brazil (CAMPO), Argentine Association of Zero-tillage (AAPRESID), and Argentine Agricultural Research Institute.

Akinwumi Adesina says Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere, while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa. We must ensure that small, medium-scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for allHe said these Brazilian and Argentinian organisations shall “work very closely with universities and the national agricultural research systems across the savannahs of Africa.”

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Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President of Agriculture, Human and Social Development with AfDB, says, “The idea is to have more job creation and create the next generation of agripreneurs. We can’t do everything. So, we’ve broken it down to certain number of value chains that we are going to tackle in Africa.”

Saying the Savannah “covers about 25 countries and about 240 million people are depending on agriculture in these areas and about half of them are living in poverty,” Blanke says AfDB shall use the best technology in order to transform the African savanna based on the experience of Brazil.The initiative, which begins in November 2017.

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