African Governments Urged to Harmonize Agricultural Policies for Food Security
Calls for Alignment between Executive and Legislative Branches to Address Policy Incoherence
Dr. Godfred Seidu Jasaw, Deputy Ranking Member on Parliament’s Food and Agriculture Committee, has emphasized the urgent need for African governments to streamline their agricultural policies across the continent to combat food insecurity challenges effectively.
Dr. Jasaw pointed out the prevailing incoherence within African agricultural policies, urging immediate corrective measures during a significant session at the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AFSF) held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The session, themed ‘Parliamentary and Policymakers Forum: Enabling the Trade Environment for Business,’ delved into fostering an enabling climate for the food systems sector to flourish.
In his address at the session, Dr. Jasaw highlighted the imperative of aligning the work of the executive and the legislature in formulating and overseeing agricultural policies. He emphasized, “There is a shrinking of the conceptualization of governance to think the government is just the executive. If we think of policy actions, we should think of the legislators. We should take the legislators along in the policy formulation and implementation.”
Additionally, Dr. Jasaw underscored the necessity for increased and timely funding of agricultural initiatives on the African continent. He noted,
“Most agricultural activities in Africa are timely and rainfed. If the government doesn’t receive the budget in good time, they will not be able to achieve their targets. The executive and legislators must be ready to work hand in hand to ensure government is held accountable.”
Minister of Investment in Togo, Rose Kayi Mivedor, shared her country’s commitment to prioritizing investments in the agricultural sector. She emphasized, “60% of the population in Togo lives in rural areas, and the agricultural sector contributes to 33% of the GDP. As a result of this, we have put a strong focus on agriculture to improve access to land, seeds, and fertilizer.” Mivedor also highlighted the implementation of policies to reduce prices and the introduction of programs for irrigation, fertilizer distribution, and training to enhance yields and increase production.
Former Tanzanian President Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, delivering the keynote address, called on African countries to harness the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to enhance agriculture. Dr. Kikwete lamented the delay in ratification of the AfCFTA by some African nations, emphasizing that it provides a unique opportunity to transform food systems, generate wealth, and ensure food security for the continent.
“But we need not do business as usual. And this involves ensuring a transformation of smallholder farmers who constitute more than 60% of African agriculture.”
The session, moderated by Dr. Apollos Nwafor, Vice President in charge of Policy and State Capability at AGRA, addressed policies, laws, and regulations conducive to attracting investments and supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture and food sectors. Experts and policymakers discussed the challenges faced by businesses and the role of governments, parliamentarians, and private sector actors in creating an enabling business environment and facilitating trade.