Editor's Note

Agriculture First

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In a recent speech, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina emphasised the importance of agriculture and agribusiness.“Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world. The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved.”

Adesina further urged agricultural universities to optimize their role in linking research, innovations and technologies to farmers and the food and agriculture industry.

Few would disagree with this assessment. For this reason, the highly anticipated launch of the Agriculture Development Agency (AGDA) at the Africa Agri Tech Conference and Expo (AAT) comes as very welcome news indeed. The main objectives of the Agency, according to an AAT statement, “are to promote and support access to agricultural land by emerging farmers, and to support the use of agricultural land and infrastructure development so as to promote land reform and food security in the country”. In pursuit of these goals, AGDA also intends “to ensure the provision of appropriate training, as well as support and assistance to emerging farmers to improve capacity and access to agricultural markets in particular”.

“It is only through the pursuit of such objectives in partnership with government, focussing on a more vigorous pursuit of the noble objectives the national land reform programme, that the market failures and imperfections in building an inclusive, dynamic and competitive agricultural sector, to enable all our people who have ambitions to work in agriculture can be achieved,” Meyer is quoted as saying.

In this perspective, it is heartening to learn that the initiatives of many private-sector companies and organisations specifically geared to advance the development of new-era farmers are bearing fruit. John Deere, SAB, Potatoes SA and more are demonstrating the right kind of leadership with programmes that resonate with the essence of AGDA’s mission.

Success stories of this nature show that “an inclusive, dynamic and competitive agricultural sector” is not just a collection of pleasing words but a viable future that will become reality if agriculture pulls together as a whole.

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