AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina has called for farmers to acquire new technologies to transform agricultural production.
Adding that Africa should be the breadbasket of the world, he said that there is no reason spending US$ 35 billion a year importing food.
Speaking at an Agriculture conference in the U.S., Adesina said that technology transfer was needed immediately since evidence from countries like Nigeria demonstrated that technology with strong government backing was already yielding positive results.
“Technologies to achieve Africa’s green revolution exist but are mostly just sitting on the shelves. The challenge is a lack of supportive policies to ensure that they are scaled up to reach millions of farmers,” Adesina said.
At the 2018 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C August 5, 2018, Adesina cited the case of Nigeria, where policy during his tenure as the country’s Minister of Agriculture resulted in a rice production revolution in three years.
“All it took was sheer political will, supported by science, technology and pragmatic policies. Just like in the case of rice, the same can be said of a myriad of technologies, including high-yielding water efficient maize, high-yielding cassava varieties, animal and fisheries technologies,” Adesina said.
Currently, AfDB is working with the World Bank, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mobilise US$ 1 billion to scale up agricultural technologies across Africa. This is under a new initiative called Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
TAAT is working to bring down some of the barriers preventing farmers from accessing the latest seed varieties and technologies to improve their productivity.
“With the rapid pace of growth on the use of drones, automated tractors, artificial intelligence, robotics and block chains, agriculture as we know it today will change,” the Adesina said.
“It is more likely that the future farmers will be sitting in their homes with computer applications using drones to determine the size of their farms, monitor and guide the applications of farm inputs, and with driverless combine harvesters.”
Adesina advocated for African universities to adapt their curriculum to enable technology-driven farmers and to focus on agribusiness entrepreneurship for young people.
Through its innovative Enable Youth initiative, the African Development Bank has in the past two years committed close to US$ 300 million to develop the next generation of agribusiness and commercial farmers for Africa.
Adesina, who was the 2017 World Food Prize winner, is advocating for the creation of staple crops processing zones across Africa (SCPZs). These areas would be vast areas within rural areas set aside and managed for agribusiness and food manufacturing industries and other agro-allied industries, enabled with right policies and infrastructure.
“Just like industrial parks helped China, so will the SCPZs help to create new economic zones in rural areas that will help lift hundreds of millions out of poverty,” he said.
Already, AfDB has begun investing in the development of processing zones in Ethiopia, Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, with a plan to reach 15 countries in a few years.
To help Africa transform its agriculture, AfDB is investing US$ 24 billion over the next ten years to implement its Feed Africa Strategy.