INVESTING in African farmers is not only a moral necessity but also an economic imperative, says Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) president
Dr Kalibata said every cent invested in the agriculture sector had high dividends to a huge public good.
Speaking in an interview recently in Lusaka Dr Kalibata said:“We just need to step up financing … the next thing is to do is the right prioritization. Agriculture is one of those areas where every penny you put in has high dividends to most of the population,
“We need to find financial tools that will help us all step up the game. Prioritising agriculture is not just the moral thing to do, it’s an economic imperative,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Kalibata observed that climate change was the biggest challenge to the estimated 530 million Africans who relied on agriculture.
“Climate change is eroding the momentum we had gained in terms of getting farmers to use improved seeds and better fertilizers. If a farmer puts his small savings into seeds and fertilizers and loses the whole crop, that’s the end of his whole career,” she said.
She also said African farmers faced numerous challenges including poor access to markets, often because of bad roads or patchy transport links.
She said unwillingness on the part of private investors, or commercial banks, to back what was often perceived as a risky sector was also problematic, while investment in new technologies and research to boost yields needed to be intensified.
Dr Kalibata explained that climate change-related setbacks could make the private sector even warier of investing in agriculture, adding that institutions and governments would have to be fleet of foot to cope.
“Even in countries that you would think are secure, climate change is real. Farmers are getting less rain, it’s more irregular and it’s beginning to affect their production and undermine the investment they are making,” she said.
She said the risks from climate change, including the migration of pests and diseases to new areas and increasingly sparse and irregular rainfall demanded more innovation and could drive modernisation.