President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged African leaders to secure the continent through aggressive investment in the Agriculture sector to increase food productivity.
The President, who gave the admonition in his goodwill message to the Feed Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government, in Dakar, the capital of Senagal, also urged the continent’s leaders to demonstrate the political will and recommit themselves to transformation of agriculture in the continent.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said President Buhari told his counterparts that Africa needs to embrace innovative policies which ensure that its people eat what they produce and export the surplus.
“Feeding Africa is an imperative. We must ensure that we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future. The starting point is to raise agricultural productivity. This requires the access of farmers to quality farm inputs, especially improved seeds, fertilisers, and mechanisation. To succeed, we must strongly support farmers.
“There is no doubt that we need to subsidise our farmers, but we must do so in ways that are transparent, remove rent-seeking behaviour and effectively deliver support to farmers.
“The share of budget allocation to agriculture should be increased across Africa, especially for investments in critical public goods, such as research and development, infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, and energy.
“As leaders, let us decisively ensure that we meet the 10 per cent allocation of our budgets to agriculture as agreed in the Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government.
“We must reduce the rate of rural to urban migration through the development of rural areas,” he said.
President Buhari noted that the future of agriculture in Africa would depend on getting more youths into agriculture by making agriculture attractive to them.
“To feed Africa, we need younger male and female farmers. We must also ensure that they get access to land, finance, technologies, information, and markets,” he said.
The Nigerian leader requested that the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts arising from the summit must address ways to improve empowerment of the youth and women in agriculture.
“We must take into consideration climate change and ensure that agricultural systems are climate-smart and climate-resilient.
“We must invest heavily in irrigation to help address increasing frequency of droughts that are leading to decline in crop yields.
“I am convinced that the very targeted and bold approach of using the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts will allow Africa to finally break through and feed itself.
“Feeding Africa is not negotiable. Africa must grow what her citizens eat. As leaders, we must demonstrate political will and re-commit ourselves to producing for the continent’s needs, including surpluses for export,” the President said.