The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nteranya Sanginga, has warned that except concrete attention is paid to the development of agriculture in Africa, it would cost the continent $110 billion in terms of food imports by 2025 to feed itself, up from the current $35 billion.
According to the IITA website, the DG made the disclosure while addressing members of the Board of Trustees of IITA and researchers during the 2016 Partnerships for Delivery (P4D) Week in Ibadan recently.
Sanginga said the neglect of agriculture would cost $110 billion in terms of food imports by 2025 to feed Africans, while also warning that failure to invest in agriculture would deprive the continent of necessary jobs and further fuel the spiraling rate of unemployment among the youth on the continent.
He acknowledged that although most African governments have come to the realisation that agriculture is one of the ways to save the continent from the mess, most countries are not investing enough in the sector.
“Take for instance, the commitment to invest at least 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture. Not many countries are meeting this goal,” Sanginga said.
He commended the African Development Bank for the new initiative: Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), to transform agriculture on the continent.
TAAT is a new programme of the AfDB in collaboration with the CGIAR under the Feed Africa Initiative, which aims at driving agricultural development on the continent.
Through the TAAT programme, the bank will invest more than $800 million in the agricultural sector.
The funds would be channelled into upscaling of proven innovations that will improve the lot of farmers and address the twin problems of food insecurity and unemployment.
DG Sanginga also reiterated IITA’s commitment to supporting African small-scale farmers in agribusiness such that agriculture transcends “food for the fork” to “money in the pocket”.
According to him, IITA will continue to respond to the needs of Africa by developing innovations that will provide answers to Africa’s food insecurity. To this end, IITA will be demonstrating its scientific leadership not only in terms of qualitative research in the lab, but also impact in farmers’ fields.