African leaders urged to recommit to boosting continent’s agriculture sector

An official of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa has urged African leaders to honor their commitment to allocate 10 percent of their budgets to agriculture to improve the continent’s food security, reduce poverty and spur economic growth.

The ATPC Program Management Officer, Batanai Chikwene, who was peaking at the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) held last week in Cairo, said that with the continent on the cusp of great things with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), more resources were needed to support agriculture and smallholder farmers.

“The AfCFTA will be of immense help to small scale farmers and start-ups on the continent. In addition to providing them with 97 percent market access and a framework for trade facilitation, it will eliminate barriers inhibiting their growth,” he said, insisting that as access to finance is important, it is time to urge African leaders to recommit themselves and build that capacity for farmers to increase productivity.

Mr. Chikwene said with the AfCFTA, Africa’s farmers need to be ready not only to feed people in their own countries but the entire continent and also to penetrate international markets.

The private sector also has a crucial role to play in helping to finance the sector, he said, adding Africa’s small scale farming was key to the continent’s economic success hence the need for leaders to refocus on the sector.

African leaders agreed in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003 to refocus national attention to building stronger, more dynamic agriculture sectors. In the Maputo Declaration, they agreed to re-invest at least 10 percent of their national budgets to improve food security, reduce poverty, and spur rural development.

“So far just a few of our countries have kept their promise. Our farmers need the support if the AfCFTA is to make the huge difference that we expect it to make on the continent,” said Mr. Chikwene.