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NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- An exhibitor display a planting equipment during the on going African Green Revolution Forum 2016 at the United Nations Environmental Program headquarters in Nairobi, Sept. 6, 2016. Under the theme “Seize the Moment: Securing Africa’s Rise Through Agricultural Transformation.” the forum kicked off here on Monday. XINHUA PHOTO: ALLAN MUTISO

African leaders renew forum pledge to catalyze Green Revolution

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Heads of state and government from several African countries on Wednesday renewed political commitment to hasten green revolution in the continent.

The leaders who spoke at the sixth Africa Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi agreed that political action, financing, policy reforms and technology adoption were key to revolutionize food production in Africa.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in his opening remarks said that a vibrant agriculture sector is key to socio-economic renewal across the African continent.

"Agriculture provides an avenue for decent jobs and incomes for key demographics like women and youth. The sector is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty," Kenyatta said.

Thousands of delegates from government, industry, academia and civil society are attending the sixth African green revolution forum that runs from Sept. 5 to 9.

The high-level forum will discuss and adopt sweeping declarations to advance food security agenda in Africa.

Kenyatta said that robust partnerships were an imperative to strengthen the capacity of African countries to implement continental instruments on advancing agricultural transformation.

He singled out speedy implementation of Malabo Declaration endorsed by African leaders in 2014 to revolutionize farming in order to boost food security and rural incomes.

"We pledged in Malabo to double agricultural productivity levels by 2025 and make it a multi-billion dollar industry.

"Therefore, we must integrate continental vision of agricultural transformation into domestic policies," said Kenyatta

He disclosed the Kenyan government will invest 200 million U.S. dollars over the next five years to ensure young farmers have access to finance, inputs and markets.

"The new financing will also support value addition and agro-processing," Kenyatta told delegates

Transformation of the agriculture sector in Africa is directly linked to economic growth, shared prosperity and peaceful co-existence.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said private sector investments, adoption of improved crop varieties and streamlined value chains will boost productivity of the agriculture sector in Africa.

"A transformed agriculture sector will be the bedrock of Africa’s future prosperity," Kagame remarked, adding that supportive policies alongside investments in energy and transport infrastructure will enhance productivity of agriculture sector in Africa.


Rising land prices, soil infertility inhibit Africa’s agricultural growth

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Agriculture experts on Tuesday cited declining soil fertility and rising prices as key challenges inhibiting high productivity in the agriculture sector in Africa.

Speaking at the ongoing Sixth African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi, the experts noted that 28 percent of rural Africa’s cultivated land is considered to be degrading over time, a cause of low food security and low economic growth.

Thomas Jayne, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University claimed African farmers have used fertilizer for long and thus leading to diluting of key nutrients in the soil. 

Experts observed that even though there has been progressive performance in the sector for the last 10 years, soil has lost strength to boost production.

David Ameyaw, head of Monitoring and Evaluation for Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa noted that land prices also appear to have risen dramatically in areas of high agro-ecological potential within reasonable proximity of urban areas.

“These trends have created new stresses on the ability of customary tenure systems to protect small-scale farmers land from encroachment. The region has experienced rising demand for agricultural land both from international and national companies as well as urban investor farmers,” Ameyaw said.

In Kenya land prices have increased by more than 100 percent in the last decades. This has led to sale of prime agricultural land in some of the counties near Nairobi.

Ameyaw said governments have also become increasingly aware of the potential for revenue generation from the lease of agricultural land and many are reportedly putting pressure on customary land administration institutions to gain leverage over unutilized rural land.

“This trend is particularly problematic given that land rights under most customary systems are almost by definition undocumented,” he added. 


African farmers challenged by limited market access  

NAKURU, (Xinhua) -- As stakeholders in agriculture from different parts of the world converge in Nairobi for a global forum to deliberate on issues bedeviling farmers in Africa, the desire of Kenyan farmers is that they find headway to their hurdles in accessing profitable markets.

The week-long African Green Revolution Forum which kicked off in Nairobi on Monday seeks to look into challenges of farmers in the African continent and put forth action plans for solving them.

“Getting a market where you can sell your maize, potatoes, carrots or any other produce and making a profit is a big challenge to farmers,” said Margaret Munga, a member of the Mau Narok Rural Farmers Sacco in Rift Valley, Kenya.

Many of the rural farmers who mainly depend on agriculture for their daily livelihood are finding it hard to sustain their farming due to low profits against high cost of farm inputs, she said.

“Helping farmers identify a good market and assist them access it is the best way to assist them reap the benefits of their farming activities,” noted the mixed small scale farmer who mainly grows carrots, potatoes, green peas and rears dairy cattle.

For Samuel Muraya, a hardworking farmer in Bahati, north of Nakuru County, finding a long-term solution to brokerage would give farmers a broad advantage to huge profits.

Muraya grows peanuts, tomatoes, carrots, kales, spinach, and passion fruits. He also has beehives and dairy cattle. He says his key customers are the brokers who buy in bulk at their own predetermined price.

“Brokers know how to make money out of farmers. They will bargain until you give up and sell to them at their own price,” he said.

“It is better you sell to them at a throw-away price than make a total loss. You cannot afford to let go a customer because tomatoes cannot stay for too long before they are consumed,” he added.

“I consider throwing away rotten produce a painful loss. That is throwing away all the capital and the little profit you could make out of it,” he said.

He said the rural farmers should be educated on how to overcome the challenge of marketing the produce.

According to him, forming associations to collectively sell the produce is a good practice but ensuring accountability, transparency and sustainability is a major obstacle.

Kibet Korir, an agricultural specialist said rural farmers need not just information on good farming practices but also profitable markets.

“From my experience in training farmers, I have realized that they are willing and ready to adopt new ways of farming to boost the harvests,” he said.

“But the question is what happens after the high yields? Are they able to say they significantly increased their profits by capturing a well-paying market or they feel disappointed because they have to sell them at the same throw-away price?” he said.

Korir recognizes the need to establish and efficiently implement policies that support farmers in accessing the regional markets such as in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

A report by Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research noted that linking the farmers to the urban centers where they can access markets would stimulate agricultural productivity and further create employment.

In Africa, at least 80 percent of the population live in the rural areas and survive on farming activities, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. However, apart from limited access to profitable markets, they also face numerous challenges including fluctuating food prices, high-cost farm inputs, impacts of climate change and soil infertility, among others. 




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