By Michel Nkurunziza
Officials and experts that gathered at the 7th Agriculture science week and the assembly organized by Forum for Agriculture Science in Africa (FARA), have warned of a looming crisis. The delegation discovered that if Africa does not invest much in science and innovation in the agriculture sector, it will fail to feed its population of over 2.4bn by 2050 as it will have increased to a tune of 1.3bn from today.
The reality truth seen by many as a ‘threat’ by demographic pressure was expressed by Dr. Martial De Paul Ikounga, the commissioner for Human science and Technology at African Union.
Ikounga said, such concern would be addressed by initiatives such as investing in agriculture science, innovation and other nutrition programs including school feeding based on local agriculture production.
Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, the President of African Development Bank (AFDB), said the innovation in agriculture is highly needed to unlock the potential to make it efficient and competitive.
Dr. Adeshina who at the event, was given a recognition award for having supported agriculture sector in Africa by working with banks and agriculture finance initiatives, said there is need to raise investment in agriculture science and innovation.
“Africa imports food worth$35bn per year which is too much while it should be produced locally through science and innovation. Africa needs to be an agro-industry center. African Development bank is to allocate over $24bn in Africa transformation to start being used this year,” he said.
Michael Ryan, the head of European delegation in Rwanda pledged that in few coming days, the delegation will sign an agreement of 200m Euros to support Rwanda in improving agriculture and nutrition.
He added: “we are also committed to invest Euros9bn for agriculture for nutrition security. We are committed to reduce malnutrition, stunting among 7 million children by 2025 in African countries”.
“20% of European Union budget goes to issues related to agriculture including climate change. We need to fund the agricultural value chain focusing on small holder farmers,” he said.
Dr. Charity Krugger, the chairperson of FARA said the forum assembly was themed; ‘Apply science, impact livelihoods’ because Africa needs to sustain financing science innovation by working together to boost productivity growth.
Dr. Geraldine Mukeshimana, the minister of agriculture in Rwanda said agriculture contributes 1/3 of national GDP. It also employs over 70 per cent of Rwandans and therefore, technology will be the main key to increase productivity so as to ensure food security and fight against malnutrition.
Prime Minister, Anastase Murekezi who was representing President Paul Kagame, said, agriculture sector must be taken as a serious business venture on not just for subsistence. He however insisted that mechanization, agri-business and agro-processing require innovation and science practices. He said, there should also be an increase of investment in education to boost science and innovation adding that the drives will help implement 17 sustainable development goals.
President Paul Kagame also received a recognition award for having promoted agriculture and put it at the center of national development to improve food security. Rwanda was the first country to sign CAADP Compact, an initiative by African union to combat hunger, malnutrition by 2025.
Source: All Africa