Thursday, February 3, 2011

African agriculture needs to transform from subsistence to market systems, says Dione

Josue Dione

If African agriculture is to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs through broad-based growth, food security, employment and poverty reduction, it would need to transform from the current subsistence system to market oriented ones, the Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development (FSSD) of Economic Commission for Africa, Josue Dione, said in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
Welcoming about 30 experts who began a three-day meeting on the “Development and Promotion of Regional Strategic Food and Agricultural Commodities Value Chains in Africa”, Dione said an effective transformation of agriculture in Africa must first bridge the poor linkages of farmers to input markets and to product markets accompanied with rapid urbanization.
“This points to the need for a comprehensive value chain approach to agriculture development where the focus goes beyond the narrow confines of the farm stage to embrace the agro-industry and agribusiness stages that connect farmers to markets,” he said.
Dione said an effective agricultural transformation must also address the high degree of fragmentation or the weak integration of the African agriculture market among 53 countries and 12 sub regional groupings.
“This sort of landscape does not provide for the levels of economies of scale and transactions that would create incentives for investment all allow the full realization of intraregional production and trade potential for African agriculture on a comparative advantage basis,” Dione added.
According to the Director, these are some of the reasons why ECA has consistently addressed agricultural transformation through the development of regionally coordinated value chains of strategic food and agriculture commodities within the framework of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
In partnership with the FAO and UNIDO, he said, ECA’s support of the African Union in this regard is premised on the realization that through agricultural transformation, regional integration of the market would offer the economic space and incentives for profitable private sector investment in agriculture.
Agricultural transformation will also generate effective public-private partnerships to deliver necessary infrastructure while regional research centres of excellence would tackle technological challenges, he said. The expert group meeting ends on Wednesday. Source: APO

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