One of the main points on the summit’s agenda is agriculture and food security, and the meeting is being held under the motto “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.”
The summit is taking place more than a decade after African leaders approved, in 2003, the Maputo Declaration, in which they committed themselves to allocating at least 10 per cent of their state budgets to agriculture. That declaration also commits African countries to achieve an agricultural growth rate of at least six per cent a year.
By 2013, according to NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), only eight AU member states had managed to meet the ten per cent target – namely Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of a session of the AU Council of Ministers, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stressed “we should adopt practices to guarantee that Africa has a greater say in setting the prices for our agricultural products”.
Such measures, she said, should ensure that women, who are the majority of the African agricultural work force, gain access to training and to capital, and are supported in the formation of cooperatives and in marketing structures and agro-business.
Speaking on Tuesday to the Mozambican reporters covering the summit, the national director of agricultural services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mohamed Vala, said that Mozambican is moving towards compliance with the Maputo Declaration targets.
“Three or four years ago, we were allocating 4.3 per cent of the budget to agriculture, and now we have reached 7.6 per cent”, he said. “Looking in a holistic way at state investment plus the funds disbursed by various partners, agriculture has received funding of around 12 to 13 per cent of the total.
Vala said it was important for African countries to meet the targets set in the Maputo Declaration, in order to eradicate hunger and food vulnerability.
He was optimistic that Mozambique can reach food self-sufficiency within the next ten years, as advocated in the government’s Strategic Plan for the Development of the Agricultural Sector (PEDSA).
The main challenges, Vala said, were to increase agricultural production and productivity, and to ensure increasingly efficient and effective management of natural resources.
One matter of concern was the low level of fertilizer use in Mozambique. The Abuja Declaration on Fertiliser for the African Green Revolution, adopted by AU agriculture ministers in 2006, called for an increase in fertiliser use from the average then of eight kilos per hectare to an average of 50 kilos per hectare in 2015.
But Mozambique is nowhere near reaching this target. Vala said the country is still using only six between six to eight kilos per hectare. But he believed this situation will change, if the government institutes a fertilizer subsidy in line with the approval last year of the National Fertiliser Programme.
The government’s vision, Vala added is to make the shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture within the next five years or less, “otherwise we will remain uncompetitive in Africa and internationally, because other countries are not standing still”.
Vala argued that Mozambique has made great strides in food security. “In 2006, we had 530,000 to 560,000 vulnerable people”, he said. “Now the figure has fallen to 270,000. That is, we have reduced vulnerability across the country by half”.
While in Addis Ababa, Guebuza will also take part in meetings of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and the AU’s Peace and Security Council which will look at the situations in Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.Post published in: Africa News