Agri­cul­ture will help Africa grow

Vuk'uzenzele - - International Relations / Africa News -

agri­cul­ture IS africa’S best op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify its econ­omy, im­prove food se­cu­rity and cre­ate jobs, ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on Africa held in Dur­ban re­cently.

how to de­velop and strengthen the economies of ru­ral Africa was one of the ma­jor dis­cus­sions at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum (WEF) on Africa, held in Dur­ban this month. Agri­cul­ture of­fers Africa the po­ten­tial to re­duce poverty and cre­ate jobs, es­pe­cially in poor ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and other ar­eas where jobs are hard to find.

Ac­cord­ing to WEF, growth in agri­cul­ture is 11 times bet­ter at re­duc­ing poverty than growth in other sec­tors. With 65 per cent of Africa’s pop­u­la­tion al­ready work­ing in farm­ing, in­vest­ment in agri­cul­ture will ben­e­fit more of the con­ti­nent’s peo­ple.

But poorly main­tained roads and other in­fra­struc­ture are a chal­lenge. For ex­am­ple, it can be more ex­pen­sive for some African farm­ers to get their prod­ucts to a port just 10 kilo­me­tres away than it is for Euro­pean farm­ers to ship milk across the world.

To­day, Africa as a whole has to im­port agri­cul­tural and food prod­ucts. In the 1960s Africa was an ex­porter of sur­plus farm­ing prod­ucts.

A new vi­sion

In 2009 WEF de­ter­mined that the world needs sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture to de­liver food se­cu­rity, en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity. The or­gan­i­sa­tion de­vised the New Vi­sion for Agri­cul­ture, em­brac­ing mar­ket-based meth­ods to achieve the goal of a 20 per cent im­prove­ment ev­ery decade to 2050.

Suc­cess, WEF rea­soned, would de­pend on good lead­er­ship from gov­ern­ments and in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, re­search and mon­i­tor­ing. The Com­pre­hen­sive Africa Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (CAADP), run by the New Part­ner­ship for Africa’s De­vel­op­ment, has driven com­mit­ments from African gov­ern­ments to in­crease fund­ing on agri­cul­ture.

The Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions has pointed out: “Events in Africa and across the world have demon­strated a need for lead­ers to be re­spon­sive to the de­mands of the peo­ple who have en­trusted them to lead, and to also pro­vide a vi­sion and a way for­ward.”

The CAADP has al­ready helped to al­most dou­ble agri­cul­tural trade within Africa. But this still only ac­counts for 3.5 per cent of the con­ti­nent’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

In 2014 mem­bers of the African Union signed the Mal­abo Dec­la­ra­tion, which set a tar­get of tripling the trade of agri­cul­tural and food prod­ucts be­tween African coun­tries by 2025.

Bur­saries for bet­ter skills in agri­cul­ture

To fast track ru­ral skills de­vel­op­ment, the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Forestry has in­creased the num­ber of bur­saries it of­fers to stu­dents ac­cepted to agri­cul­tural col­leges.

This was an in­vest­ment in South Africa’s drive a de­vel­op­ment agenda of food se­cu­rity and ru­ral wealth cre­ation, Min­is­ter Sen­zeni Zok­wana said.

“DAFF has been award­ing bur­saries since 2004, af­ter in­tro­duc­ing an ex­ter­nal bur­sary scheme in re­sponse to gov­ern­ment’s call to bridge the skills gap, pro­mote ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and to elim­i­nate skewed par­tic­i­pa­tion in South Africa,” the Min­is­ter said.

“The scheme is used by DAFF as a skills pipe­line to con­trib­ute to­wards the pro­mo­tion of in­clu­sive eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation and food se­cu­rity by en­sur­ing a con­stant sup­ply of re­quired skilled per­son­nel in the highly com­pet­i­tive fields of agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­eries.”

(Photo: GCIS)

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ac­com­pa­nied by Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Malusi Gi­gaba and head of WEF Elsie Kanza at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on Africa meet­ing in Dur­ban.

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