“There is very little participation of the private sector both local and foreign in Africa’s agriculture”
Are you surprised Mr. Kikwete, you steal investor’s farms!!!
JK: Private sector crucial in agricultural transformation
By Lydia Shekighenda
18th February 2012
President Jakaya Kikwete has said that agriculture will take a long time to turn around unless the private sector makes a swift move to aid its effective transformation.
He made the remarks when opening a meeting of agriculture ministers from seven Africa countries in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The countries are Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and the host Tanzania which have already started implementing the Grow Africa initiative.
The important fact about African agriculture, he said, is the predominance of government in the entire business of development and transformation of this grand sector.
Many of the initiatives to develop the sector involve governments and donors, he said, noting that at limited times they also involve donor-supported NGOs, working with governments or small holder farmers.
“There is very little participation of the private sector both local and foreign in Africa’s agriculture. This is an omission which cannot be left to continue, otherwise agriculture will take a very long time to turn around,” the President observed.
He added that the private sector was needed in all aspects of Africa’s agriculture -- in seed research development, multiplication and distribution for large scale production, and in involving small holder farmers as outgrowers and where possible, making inputs like fertilisers and pesticides available to farmers as well as assisting in finding markets for farmers’ produce.
“If properly harnessed, this huge private sector potential can make a gigantic difference for the better,” he said, adding that several plans and initiatives have been formulated to encourage participation of the private sector in agriculture on the continent. However, much more needs to be done, he insisted.
The Grow Africa partnership in which the seven countries are members, is a good example of efforts across countries to promote private sector participation in African agriculture, he said, adding that it is a forum for exchanging ideas and doing advocacy for support.
“Agriculture is essential to provide food for humanity and as a source of livelihood for majority of our people in Africa,” he said.
“One cannot talk of food security in Africa and the world without talking about agriculture. No serious person can talk about effective poverty reduction in Africa without talking about agriculture which employs over 70 percent of the people on the African continent,” the president said.
He added: “We will therefore do everything in our power, use every resource at our disposal and all our mental and physical faculties which God has endowed us with to make Grow Africa Partnership a great success.”
For his part, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Prof Jumanne Maghembe cited a number of factors contributing to low agricultural productivity as limited use of improved seeds, proper agronomic practices and very little investment, among others.
“These have combined with low priority given to agriculture in the past and limited investment by the private sector to compound the difficulties of the post independent African agriculture,” Prof Maghembe observed.
He said that the meeting was called to chart ways forward to create and advance innovative arrangements in agriculture that would take advantage of public- private partnership to overcome the difficulties currently facing the sector on the continent.
“Our challenge is to get the agriculture sector grow at the rate that is equal to or above 6 percent. This will allow majority of our people to operate in a sector whose growth is not only attractive for more investment in expansion and value addition but also one that is competitive with other economic sectors,” the minister said.
For his part, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Tumusiime Rhoda commended efforts made by the leadership of the participating countries in promoting the sector.
“What we are doing here today is the result of personal engagement and excellent leadership in transforming Africa’s agriculture,” Rhoda said.
She also stressed the importance of private sector participation in promoting agricultural revolution in Africa.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN