Dr. Charity Kruger, Chairperson of FARA, has expressed confidence that Africa will definitely get to the point of achieving food self-sufficiency, given all the initiatives and investments being made to reach that goal.
“Already in Africa we have achieved a lot, and we need to scale-up communications on our achievements,” she said.
She was responding to questions from journalists at the 7th African Agricultural Science Week and the FARA General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.
She referred to initiatives such as school feeding programmes currently going on in African countries, as well as the development of fortified and composite meals for children and the youth – which are developed from local produce to enhance nutrition in children – and said these are strides that have been achieved.
She said research institutions all over Africa have made satisfactory strides in unearthing innovative approaches to boost food production on the continent.
Asked whether Africa should not have made more progress than it has considering very favourable factors — such as agricultural research activities that have come up with innovative findings, best agricultural and agribusiness practices available globally, and donor support – Dr. Kruger said there are fragmented challenges which have impeded rapid growth of agricultural self-sufficiency for Africa.
“African countries have had to go through their independence processes, after which they have had to focus on political stability and social services. Africa has experienced severe brain-drain in addition to the agricultural infrastructural challenges it is currently facing: such as good farm roads and bridges to facilitate quick and timely access to markets,” Dr. Kruger noted.
She said through initiatives such as CAADP and the science agenda, there is a clear demonstration of political commitment by African governments to transform the agricultural sector. “I believe that where there is political will and human capital, we are in position to make more progress in agriculture and get closer to becoming food self-sufficient,” Dr. Kruger said.
“The challenge now for institutions such as FARA is to demonstrate that agriculture pays. We have to make agriculture attractive. Many young people do not want to join the sector, and so we have to explore ways of modernising agriculture and re-orienting the industry from subsistence farming to commercial entities,” she emphasised.
Dr. Kruger expressed belief that: “When this is demonstrated, the sector can provide higher returns to the private sector, and the youth – who are the future of agriculture – will be attracted to the industry”.