IFAD President urges investments in agric to generate riches, reduce poverty


 Prof Kanayo Nwanze, President, United Nation’s International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), said investments in agriculture could generate riches for the continent and lift millions out of poverty.
This is contained in a statement issued by the organisation and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement quoted Nwanze to have made the statement while addressing governments and business leaders gathering for the Grow Africa Investment and the World Economic Forums (WEF) on Africa in Kigali.
“Investments in agriculture can generate great riches for the continent and lift millions out of poverty and hunger; there are high returns for countries that take agriculture seriously.
“At IFAD we know that small-scale farmers do not want hand-outs, they want economic opportunities.
``I am looking forward to discussing how we can create those opportunities and make agriculture a profitable sector and a powerful catalyst for development,’’ he said.
The statement quoted Nwanze to have said half of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops is in Africa.
Nwanze called for mutual aid to harness Africa’s potential, urging all stakeholders to invest in small-scale farmers who he said are the backbone of agriculture.
The president said since 2009 Africa is seen as the next great investment frontier.
He also said that with the right investments, Africa could double its agricultural productivity in the next five years.
He said Africa has 25 per cent of the world’s arable land, yet it generates only 10 per cent of global agricultural output.
Nwanze said with a population growth of 2.7 per cent annually, food demand on the continent is expected to double every 30 years.
The professor said that economic growth in Africa is now predicted slower than the rest of the world for the first time in sixteen years, according to International Monetary Fund record.
He also said that many countries in southern and eastern Africa suffering from worst drought in decades plus widening fiscal deficits and conflicts, experts question Africa is rising.
In spite of these dire predictions, Nwanze said Africa is still a continent of unprecedented opportunity.
He said that supporting small-scale farmers and investing in rural areas are some of the best ways for countries to meet their broader development objectives, including poverty reduction.
He explained that investments that encourage increase in agricultural production would cut Africa’s annual 35 billion dollars food import bill.
Nwanze said that investments alone will not transform the continent as governments needed to put their own houses in order and ensure that there is a strong commitment to implement policies.

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