The Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has decried lack of enough budgetary allocation to agricultural sector by
most African countries.
He said that this had been militating against the development of the sector in the continent.
Sanginga, who spoke at a media interactive session on Thursday in Ibadan, said that except adequate attention was paid to agriculture by African leaders, it might be difficult to attain food sufficiency in the continent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sanginga, from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) assumed office in 2011 as the first African director-general of the 54-year-old international institute.
He noted that African countries had more than enough resources to attain food sufficiency to rely less on importation, adding that the endemic leadership problems confronting them had been a clog in their wheel of progress.
Sanginga said this had been further compounded by lack of commitment of most African leaders to agricultural development, as reflected in the quantum of resources being allocated to the sector on yearly basis.
Citing the example of his home country, he said that on average, DRC usually had 1.7 per cent budgetary allocation to agriculture, while in Nigeria, it was not more than two per cent.
“With all the resources available to DRC, the country still imports more than 70 per cent of food items, such as rice, beans and fish as its annual budgetary allocation to agriculture is about 1.7 per cent, while in Nigeria, it is not more than two per cent.
“The situation is also the same in most other African countries. With these, how can we say that African leaders are serious about attaining food security in the continent?” he queried.
The director-general reeled out his achievements in the last 10 years, saying he had been in the saddle, especially in the areas of creation of business incubation platforms, setting up the youth agripreneur programmers, the implementation of ‘Start Them Early Project’ (STEP) and building of food processing units under the IITA leadership.
“One of my most important legacies has been the creation of IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) programme which was aimed at addressing the high rate of unemployment among African youths, with agriculture sitting as a goldmine, waiting for explorers.
“More than 60 per cent of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25 and yet with little job creation.
“Whereas agriculture remains an essential driver of economic development and an area of great opportunities for young people in the continent,” he said.
Sanginga said that the IYA initiative had now been adopted by many organisations, especially African Development Bank (AfDB) which had been set up in to 24 countries.
He said that this had rekindled the hope of a new generation of African agricultural entrepreneurs who would feed the continent and create
wealth and employment.
The director-general pointed out that these achievements, among others, had motivated the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, to honour him with the chieftaincy title of Aare Afurugbin Ola of the Source.
The conferment of the chieftaincy title, meaning “Lead Sower of Wealth and Prosperity of the House Oduduwa” will take place at Ile Oodua, Ooni’s palace, Ile-Ife, on Dec. 11.
While expressing appreciation to the royal father for the honour, Sanginga said that this would further fire his passion for the development of agriculture and agribusiness in the African continent.