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Agric firm leads fight against hunger

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President of African Development Bank Dr Akinwumi Adesina PHOTO: Getty images


• Marks 10th anniversary

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has admonished countries on the continent to capitalise on the market opportunities by producing more food efficiently and sustainably through agro-industrialization, and in a manner that supports both the farmers and the private sector.

He gave the advice during a virtual conference held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited and Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Limited (Sahel). The summit was tagged “Zero Hunger: Africa’s Private Sector Driving Innovation & Growth”.

Adesina described a working agricultural sector as one which is private sector-led, but government enabled. He urged that the youth must be encouraged to see agriculture as a business to be driven by their innovation and business acumen. He applauded the co-founders for their desire, hard work, and commitment to transforming the agriculture landscape.

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In his remarks, Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, stressed the need for a focus on nutrition and sustainability, rather than just increasing food production. He discussed the importance of energy in achieving development goals, as well as the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation to end energy poverty in the world and gave examples from countries such as Nigeria and India.

Shah pleaded with the conference participants to rethink existing food systems and to create innovative new businesses within the food and agricultural sector.

In her statement, Dr. Agnes Kalibata described African entrepreneurs as dynamic, vibrant and data-driven; focused on transforming Africa’s agriculture and nutrition landscape.

She encouraged all stakeholders not to relent in their commitments to double the efforts of the government and private sector to increase food production.

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She stated that Africa’s private sector handled 80 per cent of food consumed on the continent and 48 per cent of food consumed in urban areas. Kalibata urged the participants to support and celebrate the successes of these businesses, and especially women-owned businesses.

The keynote addresses were followed by two sets of three-panel discussions which ran concurrently and focused on “leveraging technology”, “the impact of big data”, “agriculture development”, “economic transformation”, “women in agriculture”, and “building ecosystems of support”.

During the session on technology and innovation, the panelists emphasised the need to leverage them to leapfrog, driving productivity improvements and dramatically reducing post-harvest losses.

In the second panel session on “The Impact of Big Data on Food Ecosystems”, Simon Winter, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation discussed the need for data use and tracking in the agricultural space. They emphasized that data must be made affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers.

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