Agriculture experts are gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss ways how Africa can transform its agriculture into a technology-based sector.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of African Development Bank says his financial institution will invest $24 billion in Agriculture on the continent in the next 10 years.
“The continent holds huge arable land that cannot only produce food for itself but the bigger part of the world,” Dr. Adesina said.
However, Africa spends more than $35 billion every year on imported food stuffs. This trade deficit is a big problem that needs quick fixing.
“It’s high time that Africa feeds Africa,” Adesina told participants at Camp Kigali village at the ongoing Africa Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa ‘s general assembly.
While officially launching the Agriculture science week, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi told experts that his country is at the center stage in innovating agriculture technology.
He said Rwanda has been leading in collaboration with other African countries in pushing the sector to the next level.
“This sector is a crucial cornerstone for Africa’s transformation. Rwanda is among first African Countries to sign the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).”
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.
Michael Ryan, head of EU mission in Rwanda said the organization has set aside $9 billion to lift 7 million children out of malnutrition on the continent by 2025 responding to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Rwanda has drastically reduced the population that is malnourished, Adesina said.
Meanwhile, Beans and potatoes are some of the crops with high yielding varieties obtained as a result of efforts in Rwanda’s agriculture research.
To deal with trade deficits in Agriculture, State Minister for Agriculture, Tony Nsanganira, said, “Youth and women are the groups needed in the sector as agro-processing industry is expected to grow by14%. There is need to increase incentives in the sector.”
There are more than 832 proximity business advisory services in the country to help boost production and agro processing sector, with a target of reducing poverty by over 8.5% in the next 10 years.
Rwanda’s Agriculture sector contributes 35% of the country’s economy. The country spends over $300 million every year on importation of food stuffs every year.
Agriculture experts believe that Science should be the backbone of Africa’s agriculture transformation.
According to Agriculture Ministry, the number of scientists had increased to about 60. Currently, Rwanda has about 150 scientists and new infrastructure in improving the agriculture sector.
According to Rwanda’s central bank, by end of last year, Rwanda’s main food exports to neighbouring countries especially food and beverages, vegetables, and meat had increased by 28.9% with 30.9% of their volumes.