The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gilbert Houngbo has appealed to Uganda and other countries in the Sub Saharan region of Africa to invest more in people living in rural areas especially through addressing the gaps in accessing financial services for agriculture.
He said that with supportive policies within the agricultural sector, visit this site Africa has the potential to feed itself and foreign markets as well as create decent employment for its youthful dividend.
The IFAD President was speaking at the closing ceremony of a 4 day regional implementation workshop for East and Southern Africa that began on Monday in Munyonyo.
Themed on ‘financial inclusion for rural transformation’, symptoms the workshop attracted more than 300 participants from 16 countries in the region where IFAD projects are being implemented, cheap among them Uganda, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.
“Agriculture can generate decent revenues for Africa’s citizens and nations because it is a growth industry, and demand is already high. Africa spends more than USD 35 billion a year importing food. Much of this is for staple foods such as rice and maize that can be produced on the continent,” Houngbo said.
“There is no reason why Africa should not feed itself as well as the rest of the world. Africa has 25% of the world’s arable land, but generates only 10 per cent of the world’s agricultural output.”
He attributed the widespread trend of subsistence farming to policies that side-line small scale farmers and the perception by commercial banks that such farmers are too risky to finance. by policies favouring other sectors.
“We must also work with the financial sector and demonstrate that rural people, including young women and men, are reliable in repaying loans and to develop products tailored to smallholders,” he added.
IFAD plans to expand its approach and focus on women, youth, climate change and nutrition so as to reduce poverty and build resilience.
In refugee host countries like Uganda, Houngbo said that the influx of displaced people has put an additional strain on food production and increased food prices.
“Northern Uganda now hosts one of the world’s largest refugee settlements. It is pivotal that we focus today on emergency assistance so people can feed themselves and their children.”
Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali who presided over at the event commended IFAD for its contribution to the development of Uganda. Recognizing that the bulk of the country’s economic activity depends on agriculture, Moses Ali said; “Government is committed to playing a leading role in agricultural development. To that effect, a counterpart funding of USD 800 million has already been committed.”
He mentioned that government is in the process of investing heavily in irrigation so as to mitigate the effects of changes in climate particularly droughts.
On Thursday, the IFAD President held separate discussions with the First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali and Ministers; Christopher Kibanzanga (Agriculture) and Tom Butime (Local Government) on issues relating to; investing in agriculture, increasing access to financial services, food and nutrition security, and youth employment.
In the last 30 years, IFAD has partnered with the government of Uganda to finance 16 programmes and projects for a total value of US$1.4 billion, of which IFAD has contributed more than US$385 million. These projects have directly benefited nearly 5 million rural households.