Business News of Tuesday, 15 May 2018
“Agriculture is the quintessential sector for the transformation of the African continent and we must treat it as such,” Ms Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has stated.
“Disappointingly, Africa is yet to capitalise on these God-given advantages as its agriculture is still the least technology-intensive, it uses the lowest amounts of fertilizers and is done almost in a sentimental way,” remarked Ms. Songwe, in a document obtained by the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
Ms Songwe stated at the launch of a new report titled, Agriculture, Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation, by the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) – founded by former ECA Executive Secretary – Dr. K.Y. Amoako.
The report was launched on the sidellines of wide-range of African leaders and delegates attending the 51st Session of ECA and Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, called for transformation of Africa’s agriculture, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to Ms Songwe, the report argued that the agricultural sector must be re-modelled by raising productivity on farms, reducing harvesting and post-harvest loses, strengthening value chains and linking agriculture more effectively to the rest of the economy through downstream agro-processing, upstream manufacturing of inputs and logistics.
She said the Report was a comprehensive assessment of the state of Africa’s agriculture and gave clear pointers as to how to rapidly transform the sector to leverage the continent’s overall economic transformation and development.
It is predicated on the reality that Africa had a comparative advantage in respect of unused arable land, water resources, labour and long growing seasons and that the continent possessed the lion’s share of the world’s unutilised arable land, she said.
She said the study pointed out that Africa’s agriculture must be modernised to the extent that it created jobs across value chains, thereby raising levels of income, reducing poverty and improving countries’ trade balances.
It further delved into how gender equity must be mainstreamed into a transformed agricultural sector and made a case for paying attention to the environment and the response to climate change.
Dr Amoako, the President and Founder of ACET, which produced the report was thankful to the current ECA Executive Secretary Ms. Songwe for the attention she was paying to this new report.
Dr Amoako, who is a former ECA Executive Director congratulated Ms Songwe on her appointment to the job, which he described as ‘tough.’ And was full of praise for Ms. Songwe, whom he said was deserving to have become the first woman-leader of ECA with a vision to move the Commission to greater heights.
Dr. Ken Ofori-Atta Minister of Finance who also attended the book launch underscored the importance of the report’s underlying theme in terms of its implications for agricultural transformation and diversification in his country and across Africa.