1 December 2010
South African President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the 3rd Africa-European Union Summit in Tripoli, Libya, has challenged African countries to transform their agricultural industries into engines for economic growth and poverty eradication.
Zuma told summit delegates on Monday that the state of a country’s agriculture sector was directly linked to its poverty levels, and determined the extent to which it could achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“What is needed now is not another meeting on the MDGs and the special needs of Africa, but action and more action on commitments already made,” Zuma said.
Despite the fact that Africa has abundant arable land and human resources that could potentially be translated into increased production, income and food security, the continent still faces challenges with regard to agriculture and food security.
These range from low productivity and poor infrastructure to weak market access, institutions and policies.
In this light, Zuma said: “We need investment in agriculture to allow us to maximise this potential and contribute to job creation and food security.”
The MDGs are a set of targets established by the United Nations in 2000, aimed at responding to the world’s development challenges, including poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, health issues and the environment.
However, following the global economic crisis, some developed countries have limited their funding for fighting poverty in Africa.
With only five years left to achieve the MDGs, all nations needed a far greater sense of urgency if the targets were to be met, Zuma told the summit, which was attended by over 80 heads of state.
“If Africa fails to achieve the MDGs, the world at large would have failed to achieve them, thereby undermining the very purpose of adopting them in the first place as international targets for human development.”
The summit ended on Tuesday.