By Gabriel Ewepu- Abuja
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, has emphasized that hope for Africa’s agricultural development lies deeply in sustainable technology and innovation.
This was contained in the Foundation’s programme overview, where it stated that the potential of growth in the sector is enormous based on World Bank’s estimate that indicated more than triple in size to $ 1 trillion by 2030 based on data that shows about 80 per cent of farms in Sub-Saharan Africa are smallholdings employing about 175 million people, which women make up between 60-80 per cent of the workforce, and the sector makes up an estimated 25 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
AATF believes that agricultural technology will play a central role in Africa’s ongoing development, and said agriculture can be a catalyst for the transformation of the economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, but it must be resilient to current and emerging challenges, which is for farmers to have access to technologies that allow them to increase their output in a sustainable and resilient manner.
It said, “Despite the significance of agriculture for African economies and societies, the continent has suffered from perennial underperformance in productivity. Farmers, particularly smallholders, have far less access to high technology inputs than their peers in Asia and America.
“This represents an enormous opportunity relatively small improvements in productivity represent a significant uplift to the lives of farmers. According to the World Bank, growth in the agricultural sector is two or three times more effective qr reducing poverty than an equivalent amount of growth in any other sector.”
The Foundation further stated that “However, African agriculture also faces new and emergent challenges, in particular, climate change, which threatens the ability of the continent to achieve food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. Less predictable weather patterns, the increased incidence of droughts and floods and the emergence of new pests, such as fall armyworms, are already creating problems for African farmers.
“This calls for the urgent adoption of advanced agricultural techniques, including conventional and biotechnological approaches for the genetic improvement of crops and inputs so that the gains that African countries have made in agricultural growth can be sustained and accelerated.”
The Foundation also called on governments and stakeholders in Africa to tap into new innovations in the agricultural sector to produce good results.
“Innovation and technology can play a major role if African countries are to realise their potential in agriculture. However, there are new technologies with the potential to drive transformation in the sector that have not reached farmers due to a lack of enabling policy and regulatory framework that promote innovation.
“It is vital to create these enabling environments by giving policymakers the information they need to make informed decisions about the regulation of agricultural technology and to help them to formulate regulations and support structures that promote innovation.
“Countries that are able to create conducive climates for innovation and business growth will be able to attract investment and drive the development of their agriculture sectors and their wider economies”, it stated.