New Vision (Kampala)

Africa: Up Funding for Agriculture, Annan Tells African Leaders

Agricultural transformation can be achieved if African governments up their game in funding of the sector, the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Thursday.

Annan, also the chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA), said rural farmers who act as the food basket in the continent need more support from their governments.

"These farmers need more support. I urge African governments to increase funding for agriculture and improve infrastructure. But we also need to give the farmers more respect," said Annan ahead of the opening of the three-day AGRA Forum at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha.

Annan, who held a joint press conference with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pointed out that food shortage had provoked riots in many nations leading to widespread social disturbances.

"If we can produce enough food to and curb on riots, we may move forward," he said. He said despite the global financial crisis affecting most nations, emphasis should be given in increasing funding to agriculture.

Melinda who visited rural cassava farmers and a commercial village dedicated to cassava processing noted with concern the "pains" rural small-scale farmers go through.

"It is incredible to see how these rural women are adapting to climate change and producing more from little space. They go through many risks, including taking part in seed trials and varieties," she said.

Melinda Gates said African leaders need to be committal to increasing agricultural funding to at least 10 percent as they agreed in Maputo Mozambique in 2003 under the African Union Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.

"Next year it will be 10 years since African government committed themselves to increase agricultural funding. We need to see which countries have done so," she said.

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