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[LAGOS] A major initiative aimed at transforming the agricultural sector to aid food sufficiency in Africa has been launched.
The initiative known as Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is focusing on eight priority areas — self-sufficiency in rice, intensification of cassava, food security in the Sahel, transforming savannas as a breadbasket, restoring tree plantations, expanding horticulture, increasing wheat production and expanded fish farming.
It is being spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
“What TAAT will be doing is providing a bigger platform [and] technology with a market focus.”
Sidi Sanyang, AfricaRice
The initiative was launched during experts meeting at IITA campus in Ibadan, Nigeria, last month (12-14 April) that was called to brainstorm on how to transform agriculture in Africa to feed the continent and end hunger by 2025.
The experts resolved that the TAAT will work with existing structures, technology and innovation, and vigorously transform agriculture through the eight priority areas.
“It has become imperative that an Africa-owned, Africa led and Africa driven-initiative like TAAT take a centre stage to bring about the best approaches towards increasing Africa agricultural productivity and technology delivery,” says Yemi Akinbamijo, executive director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, a partner of the initiative’s implementation.
Chiji Ojukwu, director for agriculture and agro-industry, AfDB, tells SciDev.Net that the plan is to make TAAT demand-driven and influence policies that will sustain the project. “We have set the ball rolling with a projected amount of US$716 million, and with the contributions from the development partners, we hope to make great impact by 2025.”
Ojukwu adds that government policies could ensure that TAAT make a big impact in the lives of small holder farmers. “This is time for big things. We [no] longer have the time to dwell on small-scale farming especially as the volatility of the oil sector is very high, and agriculture must now take the forefront”.
Robert Guei, FAO’s senior technical officer of the committee on agriculture, tells SciDev.Net: “We are here to see how to form a synergy with the African Development Bank and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture to galvanise the efforts by setting up [value chain] systems.”
According to Divine Nganje Njie, the FAO’s Leader, agro-food industries group, implementation will be made easier if government policies will create an enabling environment for farmers and investors.
“What TAAT will be doing is providing a bigger platform [and] technology with a market focus, explains Sanyang, noting that the initiative will increase smallholders’ access to markets.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.