AFRICAN countries have committed to live to Maputo Declaration that req uires AU member states to allocate 10 per cent of national budget to agricultural sector.
It is assumed that sustained ten per cent allocations into the sector would translate into 6 per cent sector growth. However there are arguments whether the 10 per cent allocation alone can contribute to food security and reduce poverty levels.
The biggest challenge however is where and how should governments in Africa spend money in agriculture sector and what practices need to be embraced by all actors, including the government, private and smallholder farmers.
It is against this back drop, smallholder farmers in the region are calling upon East African Community (EAC) partner states to allocate adeq uate budget for the development of the sector which is the back bone of the economies of these countries.
Their argument in the recent EAC Agriculture Budget Summit in Arusha is that the member states are not doing enough to boost growth in the sector and as a result we grapple with poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
The call for more budget for agriculture sector comes amid other arguments that Africa need not remain hungry given its abundant fertile land and growing population which makes the continental potential to become a major food producer and ensuring food security.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a report last week that global food import bill is lik ely to drop by 2.5 per cent in 2019 to US$ 1.472 trillion, but the poorest and most vulnerable countries will not be the prime beneficiaries.
The lower costs would be enjoyed mostly by developed countries, while the import bill for sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise.
And while lower unit costs of food imports suggests that more food could be purchased for the same amount of money, that gain is cancelled out in almost all the Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, whose currencies are weakening against the US dollar, the primary unit in international trade transactions.
In Tanzania, which has enjoyed robust economic growth for more than a decade, agriculture sector growth lags behind other sectors and this perhaps explains why there is still modest decline in poverty.
Agriculture sector contributes nearly one-third of the country’s GDP and employs about 75 per cent of the population. However, growth in the sector has not reached the envisioned levels.
According to the Agricultural Development Plan Plan Second Sector Phase Two (ASDP II) launched last year for the country to reach a middle-income status by 2025, agriculture must achieve annual GDP growth rate of six per cent as described in MKUKUTA II, and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
We therefore find the call for more funds for the agriculture sector pertinent to stave off poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
We should be able to achieve agricultural revolution through increased investment, better policies and more support to farmers. Boosting growth in agriculture mak es economic sense because of its multiplier effects to other sector.