President Bola Tinubu has underscored the paramount importance of creating a sustainable, investment-friendly environment in agriculture to ensure food security across the African continent.
Tinubu articulated this stance during the High-Level Meeting titled “Attracting Investments in Land Restoration, Food Systems, and Rural Transformation in Africa.” The event was organized on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development Nigeria (AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria) in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD Continental.
The primary objective of this gathering was to explore innovative solutions, investment prospects, and partnerships that can bolster productivity, resilience, and sustainability within African agriculture, with a particular emphasis on supporting smallholder farmers.
Speaking at the event, President Tinubu, represented by Sen. Abdulaziz Yar’dua, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Nigerian Army, stressed the necessity of enabling smallholder farmers in Nigeria and across the continent to access adequate financing for agricultural development.
Tinubu also expressed deep concern over the adverse impact of poor governance and security challenges on agriculture in Africa. He highlighted the role of these issues in hindering agricultural practices and leading to food insecurity.
The President stated, “In Africa today, one of the biggest factors inhibiting agricultural practices is the issue of poor governance by our fellow states, which has taken its toll on so many developments in Africa.
“It’s important to highlight this point because most of the inhibiting factors, I believe, are manifestations of this poor governance.
“This has led to conflicts and political instability in most of Africa or some of the African countries.
“These regions that are affected by these conflicts and political instability, of course, cannot be said to be able to have any agricultural activities because this will disrupt it and it will lead to food insecurity,” he said.
President Tinubu also cited climate change as a critical concern, noting that Africa is particularly vulnerable to its effects, such as unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts, and flooding. He further identified issues like land degradation, limited access to financing, inadequate infrastructure, and technological gaps as challenges affecting the agricultural sector.
“Other factors are land degradation and limited access to financing. If we look at some of the African countries, a case of Nigeria, the small rural farmers and farming communities in the rural areas do not have access to financing.
“We have 774 local government areas in Nigeria, and I think just a little over 300 of the local governments which you call counties here have bank branches.
“So even the financial institutions in Nigeria are not able to cover all the local government areas we have.
“So is quite difficult for the rural farmer who will have to travel sometimes one to 200 kilometres to be able to access finance. So, this is a very big problem.”
In closing, President Tinubu expressed optimism that the meeting would serve as a platform for brainstorming solutions to help rural communities and farmers gain access to finance, improve infrastructure, adopt technology, and address policy and regulatory inconsistencies. He emphasized the need for coordinated efforts to overcome these challenges and promote agricultural practices in African countries.
“And technology, of course, is another factor. There is a need to have technology adoption, which is limited in nature in most of the rural communities.
“Then we have the issue of policy and regulation by government. You have inconsistencies in policies and some of the African countries as it affects land tenure, land reformation, and agriculture itself.
Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, echoed the importance of coordination among African countries and stakeholders, emphasizing the need to empower women in agriculture and enhance the supply chain. She stressed the significance of collaboration to expand the economy through agriculture and remove barriers to accessing financing for smallholder farmers.
“We need to put as many stakeholders in the economy, which means that we have to set the women and we have to empower them to be part of the transformation that takes place.
“All these require a judicious mix of inputs, ingredients that will go into each, and thus, it’s not restoration. We need the resources; we need the human capital; we need the training; we need the capacity.
“We need institutions to get the same thing with food security in terms of agricultural productivity and production.
“We need to put these ingredients, and also the core value supply chain is critically important because we’re talking about the food systems.
“All these require whole collaborative efforts, and everybody should be working toward to achieve that,” she said.
In summary, the meeting brought together key leaders and experts to address the multifaceted challenges facing agriculture in Africa and to explore strategies for sustainable growth and development in the sector.