Use AfCFTA to boost agriculture — Dr Yakubu

July 1, 2021 / Comments (0)

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A former Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu, has called on Africans to use the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to boost agriculture.

He said the African continent was typically agrarian, with most of its economies driven by agricultural activities.

He said AfCFTA, therefore, presented a platform to lift the sector to the next level.

“Agriculture, which is where we are more efficient at generating products, will be the best way to capitalise on AfCFTA. That is what we know how to do best and if AfCFTA has come, it is an opportunity for us to take advantage of a bigger market so that our farmers and agribusiness actors can benefit,” he stated.

Dr Alhassan said this in an interview with the Daily Graphic, on the sidelines of an event organised by Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) to sensitise the private sector to AfCFTA.

Support systems for agric

The Chief Executive Officer of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu, also speaking at the event called for the need to building of support systems to boost agricultural production and value addition.

He said to effectively benefit from AfCFTA, African countries had to focus on areas where they had competitive and comparative advantage.

He noted that a greater portion of those opportunities were in agriculture.

“If Africa, which possesses 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, intensified its agricultural productivity, it could produce two to three times more cereals and grains, with similar increases in horticulture crops and livestock”.

“However, the region has been a net importer of basic food products for over two decades, which is likely to worsen in the short term due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is here that the AfCFTA becomes crucial,” he stated.

He said opportunities were in agriculture as a major driver of AfCFTA.

“Agriculture is a major economic sector for Africa which generates around US$100 billion or 15 per cent of the continental GDP annually. Although its contribution to GDP tends to vary widely from one country to another, ranging from just over two per cent in South Africa to 35 per cent in Mali, agriculture remains a critical sector for the continent in terms of employment, food security, as well as to some extent exports,” he explained.

Developing AfCFTA schedule

Nana Bonsu pointed out that to ensure the participation of businesses in the AfCFTA, there was the need to develop and disseminate a schedule for implementing the 13 years’ staggered tariff reduction arrangement under the AfCFTA.

He said there was the need to map and review the status of implementation of AfCFTA in other African countries and build the support systems for boosting agricultural production and value addition, intellectual property right protection to promote research and development.

He called for country-level diagnostics through the establishment of National Agribusiness Apex Chambers/Bodies to enhance intra-Africa trade and adopt improved farming practices such as enhancing agricultural production through greenhouses.

“Facilitate partnership to mobilise long-term capital from domestic private sector sources for investment in various value chains,” he stated.

Source: Graphic Online

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