FAO asks African states to consider cutting food imports

Workers unload bags of rice on January 19, 2011 at the Port of Abidjan where 80% of Ivory Coast's exports transit. EU-registered ships have been barred from dealing with Ivory Coast's main cocoa ports in line with sanctions over the nation's controversial November presidential poll. The European Union last weekend slapped sanctions on outcast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and 84 of his associates, as well as 11 economic entities in the world's top cocoa producer. AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of UN on Monday called on African governments to reduce importation of food to the continent by implementing food sufficiency measures.

Tito Arunga, FAO Kenya Agribusiness Officer, said the continent has the potential of producing enough food once efforts aimed at improving income earning opportunities are given emphasis.

“We need to ensure that our food system become efficient, resilient and inclusive in order to produce food in excess for domestic consumption,” Arunga said during a public private partnerships agribusiness meeting for Africa in Nairobi.

He noted that besides Zambia that has sufficient food after putting measures that has led to bumper harvest and developed measures against post harvest losses, the remaining countries rely on food imports from outside the continent.

Arunga noted that the increasing youthful population in the continent calls for the adoption of farming techniques that survives climate change.

“There is need to include women and youths by supporting their endeavors in embracing agriculture so as to replace the aging population of farmers in the continent,” he added.

He called on governments to address the root causes of internal and trans-boundary migration that he noted currently threatens food security as the youths that form 60 percent of population in the continent continue to migrate in search of alternative source of living in disregard of agriculture.

According to Janet Edeme, African Union Commission (AUC) Head of Division, Rural Economy, the commission has began holding a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss how to better involve the private sector in the implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

Edeme said there is need to support private sector investment to complement public sector efforts in addressing the investment gaps in the agriculture sector.

“It has become clear that AU member states alone are unable to implement their National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) as the capital investments needed and the technical skills required to drive and transform the agriculture sectors in their countries would require private sector capital and expertise,” she noted.

The AUC official observed that the pan African body is working with member states in reviewing and developing appropriate policies and programs that are aimed at helping leverage public sector incentives that catalyze private sector investments with emphasis on women and youths.

“We are continuing in mobilizing and strengthening of the organizational capacity of African Domestic Private Sector Apex Bodies engaged in agribusiness,” she added.

Stephanie Gallatova, FAO Agro-Industry and Infrastructure Officer, noted that the public private partnerships for agribusiness development initiatives have the potential to help transform the production-oriented agricultural sector of African countries towards a more market-oriented and modernized agri-food sector.

“This approach could improve farmer-market linkages and employment creation in rural areas and cities,” Gallatova added.

The meeting follows an analysis that was conducted by FAO and AUC of 24 agri-public private partnerships case studies from eight African countries — Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia and South Africa.

The findings are aimed at informing policy-makers to design and implement effective agri-public private partnerships in the continent. Enditem

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