Dr John Tizeba (left) the Tanzania agriculture minister talks to delegates who attended the grain summit in Dar es Salaam. Photo by Francis Emorut
The East African Partner States should ensure that there is food security to avert any incidents of having starving communities in the region.
This was a declaration made by over 300 delegates from Africa and international players in grain industry during the closing of the 7th African Grain Trade Summit in Dar es Salaam.
The summit was held under the theme: “Setting New Horizons to rethink Grain Trade for Food Security and Prosperity in Africa,” and was opened by the Tanzania agriculture minister, Dr John Tizeba.
The EAC Partner States with the threat of high population growth were urged to borrow a leaf from emerging developed economies such as Brazil and Mexico who have transformed their people through agriculture.
“African economies heavily rely on agriculture as a major source of income, but untapped potential has resulted in persistent poverty and limited wealth creation,” Alehandro Terminel, the chairperson of the board of the Terra Wealth Trader Company, Mexico told delegates .
Terminel observed that the continent’s food security has declined over the past five decades despite interventions from governments, the private sector and development partners.
“Africa has a rapid population growth of which 60% are under the age of 25 with higher preference for rice consumption than maize. This calls for crop diversification to meet consumer needs within and outside the continent,” he stated.
The delegates observed that the infrastructure remains a top issue in the region with some agricultural areas with high potential of agricultural production still inaccessible.
“In the Great Horn of Africa, some states are still volatile and this has hampered development and social well-being of the grain sector in the region,” Yohannes Assefa, the director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub stated.
Gerald Masila, the executive director of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) reiterated that African smallholder farmers need to be supported through judiciously applied price supports.
Grain stakeholders at the summit called upon governments to enact policies with the necessary incentives required to attract investments in grain value chains.
“While agricultural productivity in the region is on the rise, challenges including insufficient infrastructure, lack of finance and unpredictable weather patterns which affect productivity and trade are felt.
As a result, small-holder farmers and consumers face persistent food shortages and unreliable markets,” explained Steve Orr, Team Leader - FoodTrade East & Southern Africa (ESA).