The need for African countries to invest heavily in their agricultural sector and decrease their dependence on the developed world; ensure food security; and significantly reduce hunger in their countries was the point of emphasis at the last African Union Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Speaking at the closing session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union (AU) Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, said “Africa cannot be content to continue with the current dependence on the economies of the developed world. Africa should rethink its relationship with the developed world to reduce as far as possible the gap that prevents access to development”.
President Obiang said Africa can ensure food security and significantly reduce hunger by heavily investing in agricultural development. He proposed to the African Union the establishment of a program that focuses on the organization and exploitation of markets to promote trade and food security and to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty. This will also reinforce the fight against climate change and agriculture.
He then went ahead to reveal that his country, Equatorial Guinea, is already investing in its agricultural sector. “As part of our diversification plan, Equatorial Guinea currently focuses on [agricultural] production to achieve these goals. It is imperative to ensure the security and stability of our states, since agriculture is the most vulnerable sector in times of instability, war and terrorism,” he said.
Interestingly, in the last few years, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has focused on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda which is aimed at making Nigeria food sufficient and less dependent of the oil and gas industry by promoting agriculture as a business. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been single minded in its efforts and commitment to raise the standard of living of the rural farmers by cutting off rent seekers and getting aid directly to the farmers who need them.
The Growth Enhancement Scheme tied to an e-wallet system has been a major breakthrough in bringing about a turnaround in the fortunes of many farmers. Distributing of inputs to farmers has never been so targeted. Plus, the fact that the target of the GSE is on cash crops with high yield varieties has sparked off an interest in the business of agriculture. If the focus and drive continues, we shall surely in the nearest possible time see many young people going from fighting for white collar jobs to settling as agropreneurs with a corresponding positive effect on the economy.
As President Obiang concludes, “We cannot talk about the development of Africa if there is no agricultural development to ensure food security and avoid lifelong dependence on imports of consumer products”.