5 February 2018

South Africa: High-Level Dialogue On Agricultural Productivity Begins

press release

Gaborone — The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (Minds), in Partnership With the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation (Skmf), Is Set to Host a High-Level Dialogue On Agricultural Productivity As Means to Foster Regional Integration.

The 4th MINDS High Level Dialogue will take place on the 6th - 7th of February in Gaborone, Botswana. The theme for this year's dialogue is, 'Improving agricultural productivity in Africa through mechanization and the use of fertilizer'. It will bring together a number of Africa's leading experts in agriculture sector to interrogate the status quo and consider mechanisms and practices to address the continent's low productivity.

This 4th Dialogue forms part of the MINDS High Level Dialogue Series on Regional Economic Integration, a key objective of the Institute. Using this collaborative approach to tackling issues impacting the economic integration of Africa, the MINDS High Level Dialogue Series is able to bring together multi-sectoral and multi-national stakeholders to explore collaborative and innovative projects that can strengthen Africa's competitive position in the global economy. The Dialogues aim to create better acquaintanceship between the participants - through shared experiences, developing complementary perceptions of Africa in a global context and rekindling the spirit of African solidarity on a post-colonial agenda.

Bringing together leading experts to explore the impact of higher levels of mechanisation and the use of fertilizer on improving agriculture productivity

The commitment by the Botswana Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security to increase domestic food production and improve the economic viability of the agriculture sector made Botswana the ideal location to host the 4th Dialogue. The Institute is proud of the partnership with the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation which has a number of initiatives that are aligned with the overall objective of regional and economic integration. Says, Matshidiso Masire, Chief Executive of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation "The Dialogue comes at an opportune time for the country, as the need for diversifying the economy from diamonds has become more urgent. Furthermore, the Dialogue presents an opportunity for SKMF to partner with other African experts to highlight the importance of Agriculture in job creation, food security and in accelerating ancillary economic activities within the continent."

The 2018 edition of the Dialogues will bring together leading policy-makers, practitioners, academics, representatives from private and public sectors, regional economic communities, as well as civil society organisations to explore how agricultural productivity in Africa can be improved through the use of fertilizer and higher levels of mechanisation.

Despite contributing to the employment of 40% of Africa's youth, Africa's land remains largely under-utilised

A World Bank report<https://agriorbit.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Agricultur e-in-Africa-sector-report-2015.pdf>, states that the Africa's agriculture sector contributes one third to the continent's gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment to almost two thirds the economically-active workforce. Africa's youth make up an estimated 40% of the labour force in agriculture sector. Yet, despite these favourable statistics, Africa's land remains largely under-utilised and the region continues to import the bulk of its food requirements. In addition, the majority of the poor remain locked in low productivity subsistence farming.

It is estimated that the use of fertilizer has increased global food production by 60%

A 2016 survey<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030691921 6303773> conducted under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) found that 10% of cultivated land is prepared by a tractor, 20% by oxen and 70% by a human utilising a hand hoe. Moreover, while fertilizers have been estimated to increase global food production by up to 60%, the utilisation thereof remains relatively low in Africa prompting some African governments to stimulate fertilizer usage. The disproportionately low share of cultivation using powered-machinery and inadequate fertilizer usage<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919216 303773> . presents relatively easy to implement opportunities to improve productivity in agriculture, a key sector for many African economies.

Considering these challenges and opportunities, the discussions at the 2018 MINDS High Level Dialogue will focus on exploring:

  • The possibilities of boosting productivity in the agriculture sector in Africa, through mechanisation and increased fertilizer usage,
  • Enabling policies for multi-national cooperation in agricultural value chains,
  • The state of financing in African agricultural value chains,
  • Actions that can be taken by key constituencies, including governments, to ensure that African countries, collaboratively, have the capacity to meet their food requirements.

About the Mandela Institute for Development Studies

The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) is an Africa-wide think tank which provides a forum for dialogue, information dissemination and networking, underpinned by rigorous research on the different elements of 'Africanness'; in order to shape policy and practice on governance, economic development and the evolution of African institutions. It seeks to address the short, medium, and long-term development challenges in Africa.

About Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation

The Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation (SKMF) is a registered Trust dedicated to contributing towards the socio-economic development of our country, and with specific focus on Youth in Botswana. The organization co-ordinates youth activities at a national level aimed at creating an enabling environment for Youth to meaningfully participate in the development of the country. SKMF was founded in 2007 by the former President of the Republic Botswana, His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire and Lady Olebile Masire.

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