Agriculture stakeholders urge Govt. to leverage on agriculture to spur economy

Agriculture stakeholders urge Govt. to leverage on agriculture to spur economy

Kenya and low income countries in Africa have been challenged to make use of agriculture, financial inclusion and innovation for a sustainable, transformative and resilient economy.

Low income countries have experienced substantial economic growth over the last two decades, but this growth has not been as inclusive or resilient to contain economic shocks.

According to agricultural stakeholders in the continent, in many low income countries like Kenya, job opportunities are scarce, absolute poverty is rising and global factors continue to sway economies.

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that food imports will grow from US$35bn in 2015 to over US$100bn by 2025 in Africa, and further expose governments to imported food price volatility,” said Sheila M’Mbijjiwe, Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor.

M’Mbijjiwe was speaking during the ‘Economic Opportunities for a Better Future’ conference.

Public expenditure on agriculture by the Kenyan government is reported to have declined between 2003-2013, compared to the earlier decade; from about 5.5 percent to below 4 percent with stakeholders pointing out that the growing demand provides an opportunity to raise investment in agriculture.

The international conference was co-hosted by UK-based DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP) and the Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and brought together African business, research and government stakeholders to discuss policies that will drive inclusive continental growth.

“In Africa today, discourse is shifting beyond the growth renaissance realized in the region lately, to that of inclusive growth that is sustainable. The growth sectors we are looking at are wide-ranging, and can easily comprise the youth, women, small farmers, small firms, and small entrepreneurs,” said Prof. Lemma Senbet, AERC Executive Director.

PTA Bank President Admassu Tadesse said that Africa has the potential to become a global food basket if only agriculture was well managed and taken care of to spur economic transformation.

“We need to make use of Kenya’s growing innovation adoption to improve the production and profitability of small scale farmers and make the sector more transformative, hence growing its GDP contribution,” Mr Tadesse intimated.

Kenya’s horticulture sector was cited as one of the areas that have registered transformation owing to change in policies and increased investment, amid calls for application of ICT to drive value chains and deliver extension services.

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