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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

Africa urged to invest in smallholder food production

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Food security experts on Monday called on Africa to incorporate multisectoral and interdisciplinary investment approaches in smallholder food production and reduction of post-harvest loss.

Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of South Africa-based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policies Analysis Network (FANRPAN), said the government investment is an effective way to decrease poverty and meet the food security needs of vulnerable populations.

“Farmers in Africa require transformative policies that ensure easy access to improved agricultural technologies and markets,” Sibanda said in Nairobi during an agricultural forum.

She said that the continent is currently facing difficult times, with the adverse climatic change that has been attributed to massive crop failure.

According to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett, Africa’s agricultural sector has stagnated due to political environment, conspiracy and culture.

“This trend is to blame for the low productivity in the sector despite efforts by the government,” Bett said.

He however revealed that Kenya has embarked on various steps aimed at improving investment in the sector to make it attractive to both the youths and women.

Bett said that the country has invested in reducing costs of production, subsidizing cost of fertilizer and seeds and mechanization.

According to recent estimates by the World Bank, the annual value of post harvest losses for grains in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) stands at 4 billion U.S. dollars per year.

The report said that many Africans do not have reliable access to healthy, affordable and nutritious food despite the overwhelming importance of agriculture, livestock and fisheries to the livelihoods of over 70 percent of the continents population.

Dr. Segenet Kelemu, Director General of the Nairobi-based International Centre for Insect Physiology (ICIPE), called for an overhaul of the education curriculum in Africa in favor of agriculture that matches job market.

Kelemu noted that having technology alone is not enough without the incorporation of in mechanization, infrastructure development and investment in people.

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