Stakeholders advocate climate smart agric, infrastructure to grow sector
Despite success stories recorded by African countries in agriculture over the years, with Nigeria recording 300 per cent increase in cassava production; Kenya’s horticulture export growing to 10 per cent yearly; and also Ethiopian horticulture increasing by 40 per cent per year, the continent is still lagging behind, due to array of challenges.
The pressing challenges include; climate change, infrastructure, lack of finance and constraints of smallholder farmers. But the good news is that stakeholders across the continent are rising to the competitiveness challenge.
Speakers at a session on agribusiness, at the just concluded Africa CEO Forum, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, said the continent needs innovation in addressing the challenges, especially the climate change issue, as it is detrimental to the growth of the sector.
The Vice President, Middle East and Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Sergio Pimenta said if the continent intends to increase its export to the rest of the world to increase its revenue base, there is need to adopt Climate-smart Agriculture (CSA) to address the perennial challenges.
CSA is an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.
CSA aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Africa and Middle East, Olam International Limited, Venkataramani Shrivathsan, who described the CSA, as an extreme economical method, lamented that infrastructure challenge is one of the major impediments affecting agric investment in Africa.
He cited the company’s rice farm in Nasarrawa State, as example, where he noted that it was after situating the farm in the area that they realised the nearest market to them is about 60km away, which prompted the company to construct road.
“In Africa, we need collaborative approach to address issues affecting agriculture. Policy makers and government need to make infrastructure available for investors. We really need infrastructure-good roads and other basic amenities to make things happen.
“Innovation is critical. We have adopted the use of critical technology to map our Cotton farm in Cote d’Ivoire and also data capturing, which immensely helped farmers.
The use of technology can address issues in agric, if you can predict there is going to be shortfall in the supply of a particular seed, through technology you can mitigate it. Technology can also be used to improve the yield of smallholder farmers.”