By Cecilia Ologunagba
The 11th African Economic Conference has ended in Abuja with a call for implementation of the continent’s good policies on agriculture and industrialization.
The three-day conference was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UNDP and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The conference noted that Africa had good agricultural and industrial polices.
There is hardly any African country that does not have solid, robust, as well as practical strategies that can be used to drive all these things.
The UN Development (UNDP), therefore tasked African leaders to implement policies on agro-allied industrialisation to achieve sustainable growth and development.
UNDP’s Chief Economist, Dr Ayodele Odusola, said: “There is no African country that does not have policies we have been aspiring for, the missing link is implementation.’’
Odusola added that a lot of issues had been raised during the conference, noting that key among them was that the continent needed to change its attitude.
He said the continent needed to change its attitude of using agriculture as a way of life into big time business.
“It is not the kind of subsistence farming that you just produce for your own family. No! It is the type that you produce for market.
“That is the kind of agriculture we are looking for but for us to do it, we need to modernise the sector and for the sector to be modernised, a lot of things have to be done.’’
Africa, he said, should scale up irrigation facilities which were currently put at about six per cent within the continent and also scale up input such as fertiliser, and adaptation of technology.
He said that Africa could link agriculture with industrial sector by the time the continent was secure in food production.
He said that the conference, done on rotatory basis among the three organisations, was being organised to bring forward development issues in the continent.
He noted that the conference was something that had been resonating in addressing some pertinent issues in the continent.
“ The theme of this year is quite important in so many ways; if you look at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), it is one of the goals in terms of hunger.
“If you look at industrialisation, it is another goal at the same time.
“I always say that agro-allied industrialisation is just a means not an end so that it has to be used to achieve the end of development.
“We have agreed that in 2030, nobody should be left behind and the idea is that we want to eliminate poverty and at the same time, we want to reduce inequality,’’ he said.
He explained that the agenda 2063 of the African Union also emphasised on the issues discussed at the conference and the need to move the issues forward.
Odusola said that the continent had to take advantage of its resources, being considered to be the global power house of agriculture to achieve food security.
“We should not be battling with the paradox of food insecurity in the midst of 60 per cent of fertile uncultivated arable land in the world.
“We must be able to use this opportunity to move agriculture forward in the continent,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Adam Elhiraika, the Director, Macroeconomic Policy, UN Economic Commission for Africa, urged the participants to share the recommendations of the conference with policy makers and other stakeholders.
Elhiraika said they should advocate for policies that would make the agriculture industrialised, as well as strategies that would increase investment in the sector.
He also called for partnership between the private and public sector to achieve the outcome of the conference.
According to him, environmental sustainability should also be promoted in Africa.
Mare Sarr of University of Cape Town and Some Edwige, University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal were recognised as presenters of best papers at the conference.
Sarr presented a paper on Climate Change Perception, while Edwige’s presentation was on Climate Change and Environment.