AfDB President champions agricultural industrialisation in Africa

Accra, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has urged African leaders to double efforts aimed at restructuring and transforming their agricultural sectors into industrialised hubs and create wealth for farmers.

He said: Agriculture is not a way of life; agriculture is not a development activity, but a business with huge potential that can be harnessed to reverse impoverished conditions of farmers and create more jobs for people on the Continent.

Agricultural produce on the African market, he said, was projected to rise to one trillion dollars by 2030 and called for robust measures and actions to cash in the situation and salvage farmers from poverty.

My view is that Africa cannot and must not be a museum of cocoa in which others make money and African farmers are left with absolutely nothing, Dr Adesina said during a tour of the Ghana Cocoa Processing Company in Tema on Thursday.

We must use agriculture to create wealth for our farmers, and to create wealth for our farmers means that we must make sure that we add value and process everything that Africa produces, he said.

Mr Adesina, the eighth president of the Bank, said the Bank was taking the issue of agriculture very seriously but raised several questions bordering on whether the Continent could take advantage of its own growing foods and agriculture market size.

The question to Africans is this; is Africa just going to be the market for others, is Africa going to take advantage of all that it produces, and I think it shouldn’t be the market for others, it should process and add value to everything and that is why agricultural industrialisation is very important, he said.

Mr Adesina urged Ghana to ensure that the production of cocoa increases significantly as the country is currently making about 0.4 tons but with best practices and technologies she could get 2.5 tons per hectare.

He said the country ought to make use of the technologies that were highly mature in cocoa varieties and hybrid to yield the 2.5 tons per hectare, which could mature in two and half years instead of the current five years.

Mr Adesina said the first step was to make sure the farmer had access to those technologies and secondly to address the issue of the swollen shoot disease that was affecting a lot of the cocoa plantations.

Ghana has roughly 8000 hectares of cocoa plantation that are under production with a lot rapidly aging, but Dr Adesina said: I think that you need to strike down support for farmers to be able to replant their plantation.

He said support must be extended to small and medium enterprises in the cocoa sector because they process and add value to the cocoa beans.

Industrial processing capacity needs to be significantly increased and the AfDB is totally committed to supporting Ghana to increase that industrial processing capacity for cocoa, he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency