“When agriculture is managed with modern production technologies and appropriate input and output markets, it is transformative: it wipes out poverty and overhauls entire rural economies,” said AfDB President Adesina. African agriculture must move towards creating real wealth, Adesina stressed. “The questions we must tackle are how we get to the point where we are selling cocoa instead of our cocoa beans and exporting textiles instead of our cotton.”
About two-thirds of Africa’s employment is in the agriculture sector and the continent has about two-thirds of the world’s arable land, giving the sector huge potential. However, it annually imports food worth USD 35 billion. Worse still, 300 million Africans, that’s 1 in 4, suffer from hunger or malnutrition.
The goal of the conference is to get strong commitments from Governments to undertake the necessary steps towards Africa’s agricultural transformation. These include prioritizing agriculture, renewing private-sector engagement and engaging in innovative agriculture financing mechanisms for Africa.
The conference will produce a Roadmap that will outline the key actions required to deliver a Strategy for Transformation of African Agriculture.
The Conference is being hosted by the Government of Senegal and is supported by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
According to a World Bank research paper, Agriculture and Economic Growth, agricultural growth was the precursor to the industrial revolutions that spread across the temperate world, from England in the mid 18th century to Japan in the late 19th century. More recently, rapid agricultural growth in China, India, and Vietnam was the precursor to the rise of industry. Higher agricultural productivity generating an agricultural surplus (which was partially taxed to finance industrial development) and enabling lower food prices underpinned these success stories of the structural transformation. The paradox in this transformation is that higher agricultural growth was necessary to stimulate overall economic growth, resulting in an eventual decline in the share of the agricultural sector in gross domestic product (GDP).
In today’s globalizing world, can agricultural growth still jump-start overall growth? And what are the essential policies to accelerate agricultural growth to fulfill its historic role? These are questions raised by the World Bank which need clever answers by African leaders and experts.
Data showed that in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the growth rate of agricultural GDP per capita was close to zero during the early 1970s and negative through the 1980s and early 1990s. But positive growth rates in the past 10 years suggest that the stagnation in Sub-Saharan African agriculture may be over and that agriculture could be the engine of faster growth and poverty reduction in the region.
This underscores the importance of the Senegal Conference.
Many African leaders and experts have affirmed that Agriculture is of utmost significance in tackling poverty in the continent as well as spurring industrial growth.