Overcoming challenges to agricultural productivity

Panel discussion from the conference's opening day

Plenary session 3 focused on the challenges to increase agricultural productivity in Africa.
Moderator Alemayehu Taffesse asked a ‘simple’ question of the 4 panelists - Thomas Jayne from MSU, John Dixon from ACIAR, Stephen Muchiri from EAFF and Sylvester Oikeh from AATF:

If a Minister of Agriculture says she/he can only adopt one change to overcome challenges to agricultural productivity, what would you suggest?

Sylvester Oikeh: Implement the 2003 Maputo pledge in every African country.

Stephen Muchiri: I believe in markets that are well organized. They are proper channels, which pull production.

Thomas Jayne: I would ask the Minister to invest in your own local capacity, your own policies.

John Dixon: Bring appropriate incentives for institutes and different organizations to work together in scaling out mechanisms.

Dorothy Mukhebi of the AWARD Program:
“Women have to be brought into the agenda. Women are the main producers, the main users and the main labour force and yet the policies do not suit them; also in regards to research, the type of products are not gender sensitive in terms of technologies. So we want policies and research to be more responsive to women.”

Sylvester Oikeh of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation:
“The major challenge is not having enough investment in agriculture, particularly by the governments in Africa.”

“Most African countries pledged to contribute 10% of their national investment to agriculture during the Maputo declaration, but how many countries have commenced that? I can say about three countries, Mali, Ethiopia and Malawi are implementing and they are doing good progress.

For those that are not complying, what effort has been made to make them comply? We need to build a system to be able revisit that pledge and make sure the governments comply.”

“Africa should be open to receive any technology that would make a difference to increase agricultural productivity, be it genetically enhanced technology or conventionally developed technologies. To adopt these technologies we should use the value chain approach and we should be able to build public private partnerships.”

Stephen Muchiri of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation:
“The major challenge in increasing agriculture productivity in Africa is low agro investment, markets are not well developed, there are market restrictions, farmers can’t easily access the market, and they don’t have power to have their own markets.”

“If there is no access to markets, the entire value chain will be affected. Markets are the way to boost research, input, credit facilities and risk mitigation. When farmers are involved in value chains they are going to be able to access market information that helps them prepare their production in ways that suit market demand.”

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