DAR ES SALAAM: KENYA's President William Ruto has called African leaders to utilise their country's territorial borders as the bridges for cross-border trade and not barriers, while also insisting that there is no future in agriculture, unless the continent brings young people on board.
Dr Ruto commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan for swiftly facilitating smooth flow of goods between Tanzania and Kenya.
President Ruto noted that Kenya is a major consumer of Tanzania's food despite the fact that few years back, there were few people in the borders, who delayed consignments entry in either country.
He made the statement while addressing delegates who took part in hybrid form during the presidential summit at the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 at the Julius Nyerere Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, on Thursday.
"I thank President Samia for facilitating the smooth flow of goods on the border, nowadays we have been relieved. Border is not a barrier, rather it is a bridge connecting people of the two countries," Mr Ruto said.
He said Tanzania stands to enjoy an adequate food market available in Kenya due to the fact that she receives large volumes of rainfall plus her geographical advantage of possessing vast arable land.
Mr Ruto said swift flow of food crops through the border from Tanzania to Kenya will bring balance of trade between the two nations.
To increase agro production in Africa, he underscored youth inclusion in the sector, referring to the fact that in many African countries including in Tanzania, there is enough untapped arable land, which upon fully utilisation will offer stable employment and food security.
Mr Ruto said the future of youths with ambitions of becoming billionaires rests on agriculture.
"There is no future in agriculture, unless we bring our young people on board. It is through agriculture, where we will create young billionaires in Africa. We have the greatest potential in agricultural space on the continent," he said.
Furthermore, he said intensification of agro mechanisation, research and irrigation will enable the continent to attract many youths in the sector, who can better their economic fortunes and food system in the continent.
Sharing his country's best practices in the agri sector, he said Kenya has increased fertiliser accessibility to farmers by cutting cost and online fertiliser distribution to prevent corruption in the entire supply chain.
"We assist our farmers to produce more efficiently by among other enhancing provision of fertiliser at an affordable price. In Kenya, we registered over five million farmers and we are distributing fertilisers online, so that we eliminate brokers who normally steal from farmers. We've also reduced the cost of fertilisers and this has significantly helped us to increase yields," Dr Ruto said.
For his part, Burundi President, Evariste Ndayishimiye appreciated good neighbourhood with Tanzania in the areas of currency which has been stimulating agribusiness, as farmers in the two nations were using the Tanzania Shillings to trade.
In his closing remarks, Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi said that Africa must stand firm in strengthening innovation, technology, capital, infrastructure and investment in agriculture and food systems to cope with the various challenges that affect the sector.
"Despite the challenges that we heard in our discussions including the Covid-19, shortage of agricultural inputs, climate change, shaking of the global economy and international disputes that affect our food systems ...Africa must stand firm in strengthening innovation, technology, capital, infrastructure and investment in agriculture and food systems to cope with the challenges," Dr Mwinyi said.
Dr Mwinyi added that Africa recognises the economic challenges which affect opportunities available in the markets of our products, adding that's why the AGRF 2023 brought together all stakeholders to innovate new strategies to rebuild food systems in Africa.