Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli said yesterday that challenges facing African agriculture are exacerbated by shortage of industries that would have ensured value-added agricultural produces, stressing fixing the situation should now be a priority.
Speaking in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, where he arrived since Wednesday for a two-day state visit following an invitation from his Malawian counterpart, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, President Magufuli said price volatility in the international market was a cause for concern for African farmers.
Dr Magufuli, who embarked on an eight-day tour of Mbeya Region yesterday,said in Lilongwe when gracing the 2019 Tobacco Marketing Season in Malawi that it was high time African countries addressed the challenges because majority of their citizens depended on agriculture.”Economies of most African countries, including Tanzania’s and Malawi’s, largely depend on agriculture. The sector contributes more to the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of most of our nations and employs more than half of our populations.”
President Magufuli gave an example of Tanzania where he said the sector gives the country a 100 per cent assurance of food security, employing almost 70 per cent of its young people, contributing 65 per cent of the highly needed raw materials in industries, earning the country about 25 per cent of foreign currency and almost a quarter of the country’s GDP. “All this proves that agriculture is the most sensitive sector on the continent, but still, it faces a myriad challenges.” said Dr Magufuli whose address was live broadcast both in the local and Malawian media outlets.
Some of these challenges, he said, include inadequate use of farm inputs, lack of modern agricultural tools and equipment, poor use of best seeds and fertiliser, insufficient capital among farmers and the poor infrastructure that, he said, contributes by almost 40 per cent in post-harvest waste.
“However, the most biting among these challenges is lack of reliable markets for the agricultural yields,” said Dr Magufuli, adding “And this problem is worsened by our over-reliance on the international market whose prices are unpredictable.” He said even Tanzania is a victim of this situation as in 2016, the country struggled in finding a market for its tobacco because the world price was not stable.
The President said the situation was caused by shortage of processing industries in Tanzania as is the case for the most of the African countries. Citing statistics by the World Bank, Dr Magufuli said the African countries import food valued at $35 billion on average per year while the current continental food market value stands at $300 billion and is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.
In his welcoming address, President Mutharika said that farmers were the backbone of Malawi’s survival as they not only feed its population, but also earn its government a significant chunk of foreign currencies.
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Publish date : 2019-04-26 14:49:05