Kagame was speaking at the opening of High-Level Dialogue on Feeding Africa on Thursday 29th April 2021 discussing how to the continent can transform agriculture and attain food sufficiency.
President Kagame said that Africa’s food situation is fragile due to numerous challenges including low productivity, climate change among others and stressed need for urgent action to transform the sector.
“Africa’s food situation is already fragile due to low productivity and trade barriers. Climate change is making the challenge even more difficult, as rainfall patterns shift and desertification worsens. And, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is an added burden that we are still confronting,” he said.
“However, solutions to these challenges are known and within our means. Transforming agriculture in Africa is an urgent task. No one can be satisfied with subsistence. Agribusiness can be a pathway to prosperity for African families,” added Kagame.
Kagame also pointed out areas of focus for the African continent to address existing challenges.
“First we need to improve our research capacity. Agriculture may be humanity’s most ancient economic activity, but modern food production is based on science and technology, just like the smartphones we all use,” he noted.
Kagame emphasized that African countries need to strengthen partnerships to tap into successful innovations to produce more food, at affordable prices, and with less environmental impact.
To this end, he reminisced on Rwanda’s practices where the country is investing in climate-smart technologies and collaborating closely with regional institution, development partners and the private sector.
“Second, we need to trade with each other. The African Continental Free Trade Area widens the scope of opportunity for African agribusiness to reach its full potential. For too long, our continent imported food that we are capable of producing ourselves, simply because our internal trade barriers, among others things,” he noted.
“Third, we need to convince our youth that agribusiness is a good career. In Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa, we have been encouraged to see an increasing number of young graduates dedicating themselves to agriculture, and making good money out of it. Sustaining this trend, requires the support of leaders at all levels, as well as easier access to finance and insurance products,” added Kagame.
The President emphasized that paving the way for partnerships through similar dialogues and giving the attention ad investment the sector deserves will make the agricultural economy, the foundation of Africa’s future prosperity for decades to come.
The dialogue was also attended by other Heads of State including the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu; Sahle Work Zwde of Ethiopia, Bah Ndaw of mali and Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana. Other participants include the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.
During the opening session of a two-day, high-level dialogue entitled, “Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale Up Successful Innovations,” 18 African heads of state pledged their political and financial commitment to scale up technologies and innovations to transform agriculture in their country. Each leader detailed their shared commitment, as well as national priorities related to agriculture and even their plans for agricultural investment in the coming years.
The virtual High-Level Dialogue on Feeding Africa is co-hosted by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the CGIAR System Organization and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.