Big data is the sure seed for green revolution

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 00:00 |
African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2019. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya will this week host one of the world’s premier forums to discuss how to unlock Africa’s agriculture potential.

Dubbed AGRF, the forum will focus on how to transform food systems that were weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when production of major food commodities stagnated.

As expected, the need to embrace Africa continent free trade agreement by lowering trade barriers, harmonising regional policies and ensuring regulatory environments are friendly, will top the discussions. 

However, there is a need for the forum to look back in retrospect and demand for tangible evidence on how such forums have impacted agriculture by asking tough questions.

Billions of shillings have been spent in efforts to make agriculture better, but the pandemic has exposed how fragile the continent’s food systems are.

The pandemic shocks unveiled the shortcomings in the supply chain, in what is another example on why Africa must urgently build more resilient food systems.

Despite harnessing agricultural technology and innovation, why is Kenya’s response to climate change and other stresses in our food system still wanting?

Isn’t it ironic that despite such forums with top brains from across the world, Africa continues to be a net importer of food, even as agriculture is considered the backbone of the continent?

It is about time these forums explain why despite top brains in the agriculture sector meeting for solutions, food efficiency is still a mirage in most parts of Africa.

For example, being a business like any other, it is not clear why the government and the private sector continue to give the agriculture sector a wide berth.

This is in spite of the fact that every time 10 per cent of the national budget is set aside for the agriculture sector, GDP grows by 6 per cent and poverty drops by 7 per cent.

For the sake of the sector, therefore, concrete solutions on how both the private sector and government can increase funding to the sector, must top the wish list.

More importantly, making agriculture likeable is another major deficiency.

Looking at the average age of farmers, it is about time ways to deepen youth engagement in the sector, otherwise the region will miss the bus.

Indeed, there is still a long way towards sustaining the continent’s food systems, but we have barely scratched the surface.

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