African leaders bemoan $35 billion food importation to continent
Some African leaders have expressed dissatisfaction over the $35 billion expended yearly on food importation to the continent.
They said the continent can avert looming food insecurity if all African countries invest massively in agriculture and encourage their youths to embrace agribusiness.
However, African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced its plan to invest $24 billion to turn agriculture to business in the continent in the next 10 years.
The leaders who spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State included Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, former Military Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo, Matata Ponyo Mapon.
Osinbajo enjoined IITA to partner with Nigeria in dealing with new challenges confronting the country.
“Feeding 450 million is tough, though not impossible. If China and India did it, we too can. So to move on, we must reflect on the challenge of quantity of output and quality of consumption.’’
President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, in his remarks, said the bank would, within the next 10 years, invest $24 billion in agriculture to help turn agriculture into a business all across Africa.
Obasanjo, who chaired the occasion, regretted that Africa has not realised its own special Green Revolution, modeled on increased production, in an environment of sustainability, food security and overall wealth creation and employment generation.
He said African countries must increase their investment in all aspects of agriculture, bridge the link between research and development, have strategies of engaging and supporting women farmers in a more significant way, including access to land, resources and inputs.
Former Military Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, who said he was not scared about the unity of Nigeria, said the country will not break in spite of the agitation by some groups and events suggesting the breakup of the country.
Gowon, who signed the decree to establish IITA in 1967 stated that young people must be encouraged to get involved in agriculture, saying: “The average age of farmers in Nigeria is 60, soon they will pass on and that includes me. We have to encourage the younger ones to be interested in agriculture so that they can take over from the older generation that have been feeding the nation.
This is what happens in Europe, America and China today and we must encourage it in Nigeria.”
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