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Ex-Ethiopian PM urges Africa to embrace tech to improve food security

African governments should invest in new agricultural technologies in a bid to avoid losses as a result of climate change and address food insecurity affecting many countries in the continent, a former Ethiopian prime minister said on Friday.

Hailemariam Desalegn who is also the incoming board chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) called for concerted efforts among stakeholders in the public and private sectors to give more attention to research and knowledge sharing on how to incorporate technology into farming.

“Around the world, food security ranks high up on the governments’ development agenda…the Maputo Declaration requires African countries to spend 10 percent of their national budgets in agriculture, part of this should go to investing in technology in order to realize this vision,” he said in Nairobi after he was confirmed as the new chair.

Desalegn advocated for technologies such as soil mapping and use of other digital techniques to predict vital soil characteristics to determine the suitable fertilizers and chemicals for respective regions.

“These techniques are critical in curbing impacts of climate change and restoring ability to support productive farms and healthy natural ecosystems,” said the chairman.

Desalegn said there was an urgent need for sustained innovation to determine areas fit for drought-resistant seed varieties, environment friendly farming practices and better post-harvest management to reduce on losses.

“Rising temperatures as a result of climate change has put a strain on our crop productivity coupled with growing soil degradation. New approaches to foster agricultural productivity in the continent are required,” he added.

Strive Masiyiwa, AGRA’s outgoing board chair said the agricultural organization was working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers move out of poverty and hunger.

“In the recent past, AGRA has developed programs that continue to offer practical solutions which in turn significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment,” he said.

“Thanks to efforts by various seed companies in Africa the continent continues to enjoy a growth in production due to use of hybrid seeds and use of quality fertilizers,” he added.

Masiyiwa said AGRA was working on a number of programs to spearhead growth of the agriculture sector in Africa.

“AGRA plays a key role through creation and adoption of dynamic agricultural programs that seek to transform agriculture in the region,” he said.

Hamadi Boga, Kenya’s principal secretary for agriculture, livestock and fisheries said the country was on the right track in adoption of agricultural innovations and technologies to enable farmers adapt to or mitigate against effects of climate change.

“We are investing in knowledge dissemination to farmers across the country. Implementation of this knowledge at farm level will be critical,” he noted. (Xinhua)

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