Arusha — THE African Green Revolution Forum is winding up here with a call to empower subsistent growers as President Jakaya Kikwete expressed concern over poor farming technology used by local farmers.
"It is rather a shame that in this day and age we are still encouraging peasants to 'graduate' from hand hoes onto oxen ploughs for farming instead of seeing ways that they can be assisted to procure modern technologies such as tractors ," stated President Kikwete.
The head of state pointed out that Tanzania as well as many other African countries were stuck in the time warp and still believe that the now ancient ox driven ploughs were modern technology that their farmers should adopt for efficient work and improved yields.
"Jesus Christ lived here over 2012 years ago and when you read his stories in the Bible you see how some of the parables of his time spoke of people who used oxen ploughs for tilling land indicating that the technology existed more than 200 decades ago," he said as the over 1000 AGRF delegates roared into laughter.
"We are poised to succeed in our quest for eradicating hunger and poverty in Africa through transforming agriculture," said President Kikwete. "With the right policy mix, appropriate interventions being taken by African Governments, the continued support of donors and robust participation of private sector both local and foreign, transformation of agriculture in Africa is an achievable undertaking."
On his part, Dr Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), underscored the progress that has been achieved since the inaugural AGRF in 2010. Dr Annan also stressed the importance of empowering smallholder farmers to help them advance towards business-oriented agriculture.
"Our focus on improving the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers - most of whom are women - cannot waver. They are the ones who put food on our tables.They are the ones who care for our land and water resources," said Mr Annan. "In the end, they will be the ones to propel the economic growth and development of Africa in the 21st century."
Meanwhile, the Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms Melinda Gates, who attended the forum, noted the significant progress that has been made in African agriculture over the past decade and appealed for continued support from African leaders. Her foundation is among the supporters of Africa's agricultural initiatives.