SENEGAL – To be self-reliant and increase food production in Africa, the President of Kenya DR. William Samoei Ruto stressed in the second edition of Dakar Summit that the continent should shift from dependence on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.

Dr. Ruto, who was a keynote speaker at the Dakar 2 Summit on Food, Sovereignty, and Resilience, also challenged the private sector to complement government programs to stimulate sustainable agricultural production.

“There exist massive opportunities for public-private partnerships to undertake large agricultural projects in Kenya owing to the declining food production at a time demand is rising. These opportunities, including investments in actual production, farm input supply, and irrigation, will meet our need for adequate production,” Dr. Ruto stated.

“There is no magic to enhanced agricultural production; more fertilizer use translates to more production.”

On his part, the African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said it is time for Africa’s food sovereignty and resilience and called on Africa to utilize its huge arable land to feed itself.

While gains have been made in recent times, he noted that the continent remains over-dependent on food imports.

According to data from the African Development Bank Group, the amount of money that Africa spends on importing food more than doubled, from US$35 billion in 2015 to US$75 billion presently.

Referring to the data, agricultural actors on the continent pointed out that such a trend implies that Africa is using its hard-earned foreign exchange to import food that it can produce locally.

According to the bank, increased food demand and changing consumption habits were leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which were expected to gradually grow to over US$110 billion by 2025. However, it noted these food imports could be offset by increased African production.

Meanwhile, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Tanzania, banked on youth for Agro-enterprise saying there is a need to support the youth and women through access to land, cheap financing, and farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, and agriculture mechanization so that they can contribute to food security on the continent.

“We think that by reinforcing the capacity for creating an appropriate and conducive environment, the youth and women can help feed the continent,” she explained.

At the same time, the hosts, Senegal, will seek XOF1, 600 billion (US$2.6 billion) from financial institutions during the Summit, Agriculture Minister Ngouille Ndiaye said, that will be used to finance the country’s new US$8 billion roadmap to achieve food security by 2029.

The plan mainly focuses on increasing cultivated areas and diversifying agricultural production to reduce food imports in the long run.

In Senegal, the agricultural sector contributes up to 15.3% of the GDP and provides jobs to close to 30% of the active population.

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