Agriculture ministers in six African countries, last Wednesday, outlined efforts their respective governments are putting up to increase food production to ensure sufficiency and food security in the face of the threat of climate change and other negative impacts on agriculture.
The ministers took their turns to brief the international community at a panel discussion at the maiden edition of the Food for Future Summit, convened by the Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Madam Marian bint Mohammed AL Mheiri, in Dubai.
The participating ministers were the Food and Agriculture Minister of Ghana, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Permanent Secretary Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, and the Minister of Agriculture of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Mr Oumer Hussein.
The rest were the Minister of Agriculture of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mr Hussein Mohammed Bashe, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Malawi, Madam Madalitso Wirima, and the Minister of State for Agriculture of the Republic of Uganda, Mr Bwino Fred Kyakulaga. It was moderated by the President of AGRA, Dr Agnes Kalibata.
The summit was attended by representatives from the World Bank, Visa Card Foundation, Melinda and Gate Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation and other donor agencies and developed countries.
Welcoming the participants and guests, Madam Mheiri called for a global action to take decisive and collective action to address the negative impact of climate change on food systems.
She explained that the summit was a convergence of key decisions and policymakers to initiate dialogue at all levels to accelerate the global transition towards sustainable food systems.
Taking his turn, Dr Akoto told the international community that the Government of Ghana, since 2017, embarked on a transformation agenda through a flagship programme dubbed, “Planting for Food and Jobs”, which sought to ensure food sufficiency and food security.
He said as part of the flagship programme, the government introduced a subsidy policy in improved seeds and fertilizer to ensure that the smallholder farmers effectively participated in the food production.
Dr Akoto said the flagship programme resulted in the recording of surpluses, which called for the establishment of authorities to oversee the management of strict regulations to sustain what had been achieved over the last five years.
On how Tanzania was doing to ensure food security, not only for that country but in the continent as a whole, Mr Bashe said even though his country had 40 million hectares of arable land and 29 million hectares for irrigation those were not used to the maximum for the benefit of the Tanzanian people and the world at large because of lack of capacity.
He said for Africa to maximize the available resources to achieve true food security its governments needed to complement each other, adding that there was the urgent need for African countries and their partners to harmonize their policies, to empower the private sector “to drive our economies.”
Speaking on what Uganda was doing to increase food production to feed its people and ensure food security, Mr Kyakulaga said his country had rolled out interventions to ensure that there was enough food production to feed the citizens and also had enough surplus for other countries.
On how to ensure that the smallholder farmers were supported to produce enough food for the people of Ethiopia, Mr Hussein explained that the government had identified irrigation as an innovation to ensure that there was all-year round food production.
He said aside from irrigation, the government organized the smallholder farmers into clusters, where they could be assisted with modern farming technology and supported with farming inputs and markets for their produce.
On food security in Nigeria, Mr Umakhihe said the Nigerian government rolled out a sustainability plan after the climax of the COVID-19 pandemic recession driven by agriculture.
He explained that under the plan, the government made available a risk-free loan facility to entice the youth to go into farming, adding that over 65 per cent of the population was into one form of agriculture or the other.