NEPAD CEO Dr Ibrahim Mayaki has called on the need to prioritise the transformation of small holder farmers into commercial farmers. Speaking at the Japan-African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) Roundtable Summit at the UN General Assembly in New York, which he jointly addressed with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe, Dr Mayaki stressed the significance of agriculture to the growth and development of many African countries.
“Of significance is a focus on infrastructure and investments to boast agriculture productivity and value- addition. There’s a critical need for an approach which will ensure that Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are an active centrepiece towards achieving the targets set within the CAADP framework,” said Dr Mayaki.
The High Level Roundtable was hosted by the Japanese Prime Minister and was attended by the respective Chairpersons of Africa's Regional economic bodies. Prime Minister Abe highlighted Japan's commitment to partner with Africa focusing on some strategic agriculture commodities while sharing his country's New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice innovation.
At the meeting, the Presidents and Ministers from Malawi, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Ethiopia, and Libya presented their visions and strategies towards expanding and growing the agriculture sector for economic transformation in their regions.
The Government of Senegal expressed support for the value chain approach to agriculture in Africa through the collaboration of Japan, NEPAD and RECs. The emphasis was on agriculture for human security.
RECs have a primary mission to help remove non-tariff barriers in order to expand agro-markets, thus promoting regional trade. African Governments were unanimous on the role of the economic communities in promoting agro-development for food and nutrition security.
Malawian President Joyce Banda, speaking on SADC's Strategic Plan emphasised the need to harness the empowerment of women and the youth. “SADC's priorities under the 2014 theme on Agriculture and Agro-processing is to strengthen the role of the youth as a key player in agriculture as producers, processors, transporters and marketers in wealth creation,” said President Banda.
2014, earmarked the Africa Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security, will be key in scaling up innovations on agriculture inputs, yields, processing and marketing. The development of capacities for the transfer of evidence-based knowledge, innovation as well as cross-border infrastructure will be essential.