Researchers, scientists, policymakers and farmers who attended the 3rd Annual African Food Security and Agri-Extension Conference in Kenya last month (22-23 September) heard that the slow adoption of new agricultural technologies across Africa threatens to accelerate food insecurity on the continent.
“The biggest challenge to the adoption of these technologies is the perception by farmers that they are very expensive and technically complicated.”
Abraham Maruta, social development arm of the Catholic Church — Caritas
“The agricultural sector is the most effective in reducing poverty and fostering food security in Africa,” said Richard Munang, the coordinator, Africa Regional Climate Change Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Munang noted that over 60 per cent of the African youth are unemployed yet the continent holds 65 per cent of the world’s arable land, and thus the agricultural sector could employ young people.
The experts told delegates that rapid deployment of new technologies and innovations could attract young people to the agricultural sector where they shy away from.
“The future of Africa’s agriculture depends on the ability to tap into the youth and ecosystem services,” Munang noted.
The experts also called for empowering women and young people by giving them land rights to help boost food security. They called for a review of the land sector and the development of a comprehensive policy that addresses the challenges of land rights across Africa.
Esther Obaikol, executive director of Uganda Land Alliance, asked: “Where is the land that women and young people need to practise agriculture?”
She reiterated that strengthening land rights for women and young people has the potential to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.
Abraham Maruta, the deputy director of the social development arm of the Catholic Church — Caritas — in Meru County, Kenya, said some farmers are aware of new technologies and innovations such as new crop varieties and fertilisers in agriculture but shy away from them.
“The biggest challenge to the adoption of these technologies is the perception by farmers that they are very expensive and technically complicated,” Maruta explained. Pascal Kaumbutho, the chief executive officer of the Kenya Network for Draught Animal Technology, said the challenge to produce more food will be more necessary in 2050 than ever in Africa’s history because of the growing population.
He added adding that mechanisation with support structures for smallholder agribusinesses favourable to youth and women are needed to foster food security.
“Africa needs many agricultural hubs to act as platforms to share innovative solutions for business growth,” Kaumbutho said.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.