Hopes high as AGRF closes

TANZANIA : A CROSS section of agro stakeholders have hailed the resolutions endorsed during the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023, noting that if well implemented, it will create more jobs and strengthen the food systems in the country and the continent at large.

Among the resolutions endorsed during the forum included engaging youths and women at the centre of the food systems transformation agenda and increase crops production by using better and sustainable agricultural methods, strengthening food security systems, reducing negative environmental impacts in order to enable youths and women to be interpreted in plans and investment in all implementation stages in the continent.

Others are to make assess- ment on development, investment and commitment which is still low in order for the private sector, government and innovators to ensure that public and private investments increase the food value addition and ensure that political will helps in food production, markets and trade through formulation of policies which will facilitate implemen- tation of what have been agreed.

The forum also agreed to mobilise financial institutions in order to stimulate investment for supporting the African continent agenda.

The stakeholders told the `Sunday News’ in separate interviews on Saturday that through agriculture transformation, more jobs will be created, food systems will be strengthened and thus promote Africa’s economic growth.

Commenting, a Political- cum-diplomacy analyst, Mr Goodluck Ng’ingo said effective involvement of youth population and women in agriculture transformation will address the challenges of food systems and promote the continent’s economic prosperity as it will add work force.

“The biggest challenge of Africa is that only a small part of its workforce participates in productive agriculture, in the sense that a large part participates in climate-dependent agriculture… Africa’s economic revolution will be brought through involve- ment of many people in agricul- ture,” he said. For his part, Tanzania Fishers Union’s (TAFU) Secretary General, Mr Jephta Machandalo said he expects more action after the forum, such as strengthening production value chain, easing flow of food and market accessibility and eco-friendly farming for sustainability of fisheries resource.

He said youths and women inclusion in fisheries should go with improved infrastructure for storage and packaging to expand the fish market in East Africa and Africa at large, which in turn will increase the fishery sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income.

He said the summit echoed key issues for fostering the fishing industry in the country, including preventing illegal fishing which undermines sustainability of fish resources and productivity to serve the avail- able market.

“Value addition in the fishery sector should start with mitigating illegal fishing; we also need more investment on industries that will provide authorised fishing materials such as nets and cold rooms,’’ Mr Machandalo said.

Adding “It is time to trans- form our fishing activities in the Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika among others in order to benefit with wider market available.”

He commended the government for organising a notable agro forum that gave farmers a chance to network and acquire new skills to improve their farming.

Director of the Lilian ABC Company, a company that ventures on sunflower farming and processing, Ms Lilian Herbert, noted that many women and youths in the country lack capital and land to fully participate in agriculture, appreciating the forum for coming up with a financial plan that will be benefi- cial to youths and women.

Likewise, ActionAid Country Director, Mr Bavon Christopher said giving youths and women priority in food system transformation agenda is vital because it will create more jobs and promote economic growth for Tanzania and the African continent at large.

According to the United Nations (UN) statistics, Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70 per cent of sub- Saharan Africa under the age of 30.

“Such a high number of young people offers an opportunity for the continent’s economic growth but only if these new generations are fully em- powered to realise their best potential,” the report reads in part.

“If young people are included in the agricultural trans- formation, it will greatly help to strengthen food systems and promote the economy of each country and the continent as a whole,” the ActionAid Country Director unveiled.

In particular, Mr Christopher underlined the importance of making decent investments in the agricultural sector in order to change the previous image of agriculture and attract many young people to engage in agriculture.

He also cautioned African countries in the matter of investment in agriculture, saying the investment should be climate responsible.

“Investment that will be done in agriculture must be climate responsible in response to the existing challenges of climate change and strengthening the food systems,” he emphasised.

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