BY BAMIDELE FAMOOFO
African agriculture ministers attending the United Nations climate summit in Egypt reiterated a commitment to work with development partners to unlock the continent’s agriculture potential.
During the special ministerial session, there was a strong consensus that Africa can feed itself if supported with green financing and climate-smart technology to boost agriculture productivity.
The African Development Bank hosted the event to allow countries to explore ways to bolster agricultural resilience through adaptation and mitigation. Participating ministers shared success stories and challenges from their respective policies in agriculture.
Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture, said, “We must be sovereign in our countries’ fight against food insecurity and the best way is to find funding for agriculture. We must adapt and find solutions to our problems in the face of the disasters we have seen here and there: droughts, floods, cyclones, and so on.”
He added that disruptions associated with the war in Ukraine should provide an impetus for Africa to readapt its agriculture to achieve food sovereignty.
Rwanda’s agriculture and animal resources minister, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said a key challenge for Africa was a lack of resources to scale up innovative processes to produce enough food.
“Countries are not late in policies – they are not late in implementation, but it is about how do you scale them to make an impact and change lives,” she said. She added: “We can do millions of things, but if these initiatives do not lead to food getting to the table and people can’t live out of them, nothing is done.”
She said Rwanda achieved some successes in food production because of its policy of involving farmers, citizens, the private sector and civil society in implementing agricultural policies.
Opening the session, African Development Bank Group President, Akinwumi Adesina, said it was time for the continent to optimize its vast agriculture potential using innovation and green financing to produce enough food.
Adesina said: “I know that technologies exist that we can use to feed Africa. I know the platform is there, and to do it at scale. I know the support is there for Africa to do this.”
Adesina cited many African Development Bank initiatives to drive food sovereignty. These include the Technology for African Agricultural Transformation initiative, which has enabled Ethiopia to become self-sufficient in wheat production with plans to export to Kenya and Djibouti in 2023.
The bank has also rolled out a $1.5 billion emergency food production facility to help boost production in response to recent food and energy price hikes arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is also supporting countries to develop agro-industrial processing zones and value chains.
The bank head added: “I do not believe that Africa should go anywhere with a cap in hand begging for food. Africa should produce food to feed itself and the world – we must have zero hunger.”