The AGRF 2020 Conference was hosted by the miracle Rwanda. A four-day virtual conference that ended on 11 September, it was the Presidential Summit hosted on the last day that livened up discussions.
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame set the tone for the discussions highlighting all that was wrong with African food security vis a vis what his country was doing about it. He further implored African leaders to invest more in agriculture.
“The only reason why Africa would continue to import large amounts of its food from outside the continent is that it simply has not been a priority, to add value to our own products and do more business with each other.” he said.
Rwanda has chiefly led the way by investing in agricultural technology particularly focusing on irrigation and improvement in crops.
“In Rwanda, we have been working to demonstrate that our farmers can achieve significantly higher productivity and income from agribusiness….as well as more efficient markets and distribution channels” he said.
A densely populated country with small land parcels, its estimated that over 500 000 of its smallholders are technology adept.
In 2017, the Rwandan News Times reported that the country had developed four mobile applications for its farmers under the “Agricultural Services and Digital Inclusion in Rwanda” namely: a ‘Cure and feed your livestock,’ ‘eNtrifood,’ ‘Weather and crop calendar,’ and ‘AgriMarketplace.
Opening information gateway for farmers contributed to lifting the country out of the doldrums of food insecurity which has contributed to Rwanda’s significant decrease in malnutrition.
Just how did Rwanda achieve the feat in being the continent’s leader in agricultural technology? President Kagame’s response was telling.
“Agricultural exchange, by definition, involves both a producer and a consumer, in a relationship of buying and selling. The goal of agricultural transformation is to get a better deal for both parties” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, joined the summit and paid homage to Kagame’s visionary leadership of being committed to “modernising African agriculture and creating a vibrant agriculture sector that brings economic growth.”
President Kagame has been one the first leaders to push for the African Continental Free Trade Area and described it as an aircraft waiting to take off.
“It’s like an aircraft on the runway, it has to fly. Our continent should not be that aircraft that has just remained on the runway and never took off and flew to greater heights.”
He was delighted about youth agriculture prospects and urged the next generation to take on the baton of securing food for Africa.
“Our continent is a breadbasket, and we are now joined together in the world’s largest trade zone…..this has started to change, but it will be up to the young people represented here to seize the opportunities available to fundamentally change the business of food in Africa. I know you are up to the task.”