The African Development Bank (AfDB) says there is no need for the continent to needlessly spend US $35 billion annually on importing food when it can be the breadbasket of the world.
And AfDB says with the advancement of technology, future farmers will be sitting in their homes with computer applications using drone to determine the size of their farms, monitor farm inputs, and with driverless combine harvesters bringing in the harvest.”
In a statement, AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina bemoaned Africa’s huge expenditure on food imports when there was already strong potential to transform the continent into the breadbasket that could feed the world’s population.
Speaking during a keynote speech delivered at the 2018 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting held in Washington D.C, Dr Adesina made an urgent call to give farmers across the continent new technologies with the potential to transform agricultural production.
“Africa should be the breadbasket of the world, it has no reason spending US$35 billion a year importing food,” Dr Adesina told the Agriculture conference in the U.S capital, according to a press release distributed by APO Group on behalf of the AfDB.
He noted that technology transfer was needed immediately, and that evidence from countries like Nigeria demonstrated that technology, plus strong government backing, was already yielding positive results.
“Technologies to achieve Africa’s green revolution exist, but are mostly just sitting on the shelves. The challenge is a lack of supportive policies to ensure that they are scaled-up to reach millions of farmers,” he stated.
He cited the case of Nigeria, where policy during his tenure as the country’s Minister of Agriculture, resulted in a rice production revolution in three years.
“All it took was sheer political will, supported by science, technology and pragmatic policies…Just like in the case of rice, the same can be said of a myriad of technologies, including high-yielding water efficient maize, high-yielding cassava varieties, animal and fisheries technologies,” Dr Adesina added.
“With the rapid pace of growth of the use of drones, automated tractors, artificial intelligence, robotics and block chains, agriculture as we know it today will change. It is more likely that the future farmers will be sitting in their homes with computer applications using drone to determine the size of their farms, monitor and guide the applications of farm inputs, and with driverless combine harvesters bringing in the harvest.”
He further stressed the AfDB’s resolve to change the face of agriculture in Africa to unleash new sources of wealth.
The AfDB is currently working with the World Bank, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mobilize US $ 1 billion to scale-up agricultural technologies across Africa under a new initiative called Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
TAAT is taking bold steps to bring down some of the barriers preventing farmers from accessing latest seed varieties and technologies to improve their productivity, according to the press release.