Nigerian born Agric expert and farmers’ friend, also named mr. agriculture, by some farmers, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, currently president of African Development Bank, AfDB, said the continental bank would make agriculture a profitable business in the continent. He said AfDB would create 10,000 young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years.
This was his keynote message as the world celebrate 2017 World Food Day, Monday, October 16, with the theme: “Change The Future Of Migration – Invest In Food Security And Rural Development”, at Des Moines, Iowa, United States. The annual event is used to promote worldwide awareness for those who suffer from hunger and need to ensure food security and nutritious diets.
Adesina said Africa’s food security would depend on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness. The sector has potential to create wealth and employment for African youths and stem migration. He urged African leaders to make agriculture attractive to young Africans to stem migration.
His words: “In 2016, the bank provided $700 dollars to support this programme in eight countries and we’ve got requests now from 33 countries. We must get youths into agriculture and see it as a profitable business venture not a sign of lacking ambition. Many African youths are passionate about staying back on the continent to create wealth and employment if given the tools and opportunities to put their skills to use”.
Adesina said under AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agric-Business-Led Employment, ENABLE youth programme, AfDB was working with International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.
AfDB considered investment in agriculture key to empowering Africa youths and making them prosperous and stem the tide of migration. The goal and theme of 2017 World Food Day aligned with what Adesina described as “two AfDB’s High 5 development priorities.” The High 5 priorities are Feed Africa and Improve the Quality of Life for the people of Africa.
Adesina said: “With more than 70 percent of Africans depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is imperative for the sector’s full potential to be unlocked. And by so doing, help to vastly improve the lives of Africans. One of the goals of Feed Africa is to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2025”.
He added: “Due to the finite nature of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, crude oil, among other, African countries must diversify their economies. This cannot be done without a significant emphasis on agriculture given that the great majority of Africans depend on it for their livelihoods”.
According to Adesina, increased food demand and changing consumption habits driven by demographic factors such as urbanization were leading to rapidly rising net food imports in Africa. If the trends were left unchecked food imports would grow from 35 billion dollars in 2015 to over 110 billion dollars by 2025.
He said: “Given that African smallholder farmers are on average about 60 years old, Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people into agriculture and agribusiness and empowering them. Governments can support these shifts via the right enabling environments through policy reforms for increased private investment in agriculture and agribusiness”.