By Hawa Lawal
Abuja – Experts at a Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) meeting have called for its integration into national agricultural development projects in order to reach millions of farmers across Africa.
A statement issued after a two-day high-level meeting which ended on Sunday in Cotonou, Benin Republic urged development partners including World Bank, International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) and European Union to support TAAT activities.
Mr John Andrianarisata, African Development Bank (AfDB) Country Manager for Benin Republic, said that the transformation of African agriculture had become a necessity.
“In 2015, Africa imported $ 35 billion worth of food that Africa itself could produce. If we do not change our ways, in 2030 our food import bill will triple to $110 billion.
“Remember that this money is paid without credit and will create jobs and enrich producers in countries where we import while our producers remain in poverty and our youth are unemployed. This paradigm must change,” he added.
Also speaking, Dr Ken Dashiell, Deputy Director General, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), called for an innovative combination of technical expertise, finance and political will to transform African agriculture.
According the IITA boss, the transformation of agriculture will not be possible without the help of adapted technologies.
“To achieve our objectives, we must be able to wisely combine political will, favorable economic and institutional environment, adequate infrastructure, better access to the market and preservation of Africa’s natural resources,” he said.
Declaring the meeting open, Benin Republic Minister for Agriculture, Gaston Cossi Dossouhoui, said that TAAT was one of AfDB’s flagship programmes for the implementation of its ‘Feed Africa’ strategy.
“We are pleased to learn that as part of this strategy, the AfDB intends to invest $24 billion in agriculture in its regional member countries over the next 10 years to transform agriculture from a subsistence sector into an economic development engine,” he said.
According to Dossouhoui, Africa needs to adopt high-performance technologies to boost productivity and increase food production and that is where the TAAT programme comes in.
The meeting brought together ministerial level government representatives and experts from AfDB, IITA and the other implementing agencies of the TAAT programme.
The main objective of the programme is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight Priority Intervention Areas (PIA).
The programme is implemented by IITA in close partnership with other CGIAR Centers and specialized technical centers like AATF, IFDC, FARA, national agricultural research and extension systems and private sector partners.(NAN)