Governments, private sector and international organizations asked to support agriculture mechanization for smallholders
September 6th, 2019
Speakers at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, Ghana have asked governments, the private sector, the world of academia and international organizations to join hands to support digitalization of farmer-led irrigation and mechanization in Africa.
In his speech, Hon. Christopher Kibanzanga, the State Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in Uganda said that there was a need for countries to come up with appropriate policies that are conducive to all players in the agricultural sector in order to realize the dream of agriculture digitization in Africa.
“One thing we must understand is that people referred to as smallholders in nearly all African countries are actually peasant farmers who need support at all stages,” said the Minister. “For them to succeed, we need commitments for genuine and serious partnerships based on mutual benefits,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr Joseph Mpangalile, an Agricultural Engineer (sustainable mechanization) at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – Regional Office for Africa.
“We have to align ourselves with Agenda 2063’s two commitments that call for countries to catalyze education and skill revolution and promote science and technology, and also consolidate the modernization of Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness,” he told the delegates.
The National Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, the Republic of South Sudan Hon. Onyoti Adigo Nyikwee also added his voice saying that despite the large agricultural potential in his country, South Sudan has been suffering from low agricultural performance, high food insecurity and pervasive poverty, particularly in rural areas.
“The large food deficits in recent years are caused by a combination of factors such as low agricultural production and productivity, over reliance on oil revenues to import food, inadequate public and private investments in agriculture, the continued influx of returnees and associated urbanization, population growth and unstable domestic production affected by manmade and natural calamities,” he said noting that most of the food eaten in the country was either from neighboring countries or alms from UN.
He noted that mechanization of the agricultural sector could solve some of the food problems bedeviling the country.
The young has large tracts of virgin land available for agricultural production but still suffers from acute food insecurity due to poor infrastructure, and limited investment in the agricultural sector.
“We welcome investors to put their money in our country. The government is ready to provide the best enabling environment to support such investment especially in the area of agriculture mechanization,” Hon Nyikwee told delegates at the AGRF.
The session brought together policy makers, civil society, academia, farmers and representatives from international organizations to unpack the opportunities made possible by digitalization, for expanding farmer-led mechanization and irrigation systems in Africa.