Africa: PM Ngirente Urges Africa to Increase Fertiliser Use for Agriculture Growth

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During the Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue held in Kigali in August 2019, experts in the agriculture sector warned that a food security crisis looms in Africa, calling for urgent action for the continent to meet its goal to end hunger by 2025.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, has said that fertiliser use in Africa is far below the global average, urging the continent to increase its uptake for its agricultural development.

The Premier made the request on Tuesday, September 8, as he officiated at the opening ceremony of the 10th Edition of African Green Revolution Forum Summit 2020, taking place, in a hybrid model – with few participants following physically while others following online – at the Kigali Convention Centre. The event will conclude on September 11.

Ngirente said that the average fertiliser application in sub-Saharan Africa is at 16.6 kilogrammes per ha.

“This is far away behind the World average of 144.5 kilogrammes per ha or the average in Southern Asia which is at 135 kilogrammes per ha,” he said.

“It is imperative for African countries to increase the application of fertilisers in order to achieve a sustained agricultural growth,” he observed.

Delegates follow Prime Minister Ngirente’s speech as he officiated at the opening ceremony of the 10th Edition of African Green Revolution Forum Summit 2020 in Kigali on Tuesday, September 8. Photo: Courtesy.

Co-hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the AGRF Partners Group, the theme of the Summit is “Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent: Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.”

Ngirente said that Africa needs not only to increase agricultural production, but also to address infrastructural and food safety challenges to cope with the fast growing urban food demand.

He pointed out that there is a growing need to improve agriculture infrastructure in Africa, indicating that building rural feeder roads will enable market access for rural smallholder farmers.

“Transport systems should be streamlined to facilitate urban-rural linkage. This will increase rural farmers’ income and make it possible for the urban consumers to get food at affordable prices,” he said.

Tackling food losses and hunger

However, Ngirente said that the continent is still facing a huge challenge of post-harvest losses.

“The total quantitative food loss in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at 100 million metric tonnes per year. And this is huge,” he said.

“It is now imperative that we increase investments to improve and expand post-harvest handling facilities and technologies. This will reduce losses along all production and supply chains,” he remarked.

He said that Rwanda wants to increase agricultural production to build a well-functioning rural sector which will support the whole value chain.

For this, the country is increasing investments in research and innovations, which will generate and disseminate new technologies to boost the overall agricultural production.

“We are also investing post-harvest management and value addition facilities as well as in rural-urban linkage mechanisms,” the premier noted.

During Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue held in Kigali in August 2019, experts in the agriculture sector warned that a food security crisis looms in Africa, calling for urgent action for the continent to meet its goal to end hunger by 2025.

Globally, nearly 821 million people are hungry, of whom 31 percent are from specifically sub-Saharan Africa, according to statistics from the 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the AGRF Partners Group, said that with five years left to achieve the vision and goals laid out in the Malabo Declaration, and 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), AGRF recognises that it must drive a more international agenda with more partners.

“We are only left with five years to achieve zero hunger in Africa as per the Malabo Declaration. … I think we have to redouble our efforts in making this,” said.

Organisers of the aforementioned Summit argue that in a year when food systems across the continent have been placed under pressure due to Covid-19 related lockdowns, this year’s theme is a strong and clear appeal for people to rethink the continent’s food system.

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