Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2023:
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio was at the opening ceremony of the Dakar Summit on agriculture and agribusiness being held at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre in Diamniadio, as part of the development programme of the government to revitalise the economy of Senegal.
Themed, “Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience”, the event brings together more than 1,500 people, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers in charge of economy and finance, agriculture and related sectors; Governors of Central Banks as well as private sector stakeholders, multilateral organisations, non-governmental organisations, leading academics and scientists.
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said there is no doubt that the leaders who are gathered in Senegal, are ready to change the course of history for Africa, in two words: ‘Feed Africa’, calling for Africa to feed itself.
“While gains have been made in recent times, with agricultural growth in several countries, the continent remains over-dependent on food imports. Africa currently imports over 100 million metric tons of food, valued at $75 billion annually.
“Today over 283 million Africans go to bed hungry every day. This is not acceptable. No mother should ever have to struggle with rumbling of the stomach of a hungry child,” he said.
Dr Adesina, who was addressing the summit in three capacities, first, as the President of AfDB; second as a World Food Prize Winner; and third as a former Minister of Agriculture in charge of feeding 200 million people in Nigeria, assured that Africa could and needs to feed itself.
“With 65% of the uncultivated arable land left in the world being in Africa, what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world. The recent disruptions of global food supplies have revealed again Africa’s vulnerabilities.
“To mitigate the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war on food availability in Africa, the African Development Bank immediately launched a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Production Facility. The Facility approved operations for 34 countries within eight weeks.
“The facility is now supporting 20 million farmers in Africa to produce 38 million metric tons of food worth $12 billion. We do not work alone. Our efforts complement global initiatives from the G7, Europe and other development partners,” he announced.
Dr Adesina called on leaders to make agriculture and agribusiness very attractive to the youth as a vocation, and support women-owned and women-led agribusinesses, adding that the size of the food and agriculture market on the continent could rise to $1 trillion by 2030 and that agriculture needs to become Africa’s new source of wealth.