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Half a million Nigerians join fellow African citizens to call on African leaders to keep their promise and invest in Agriculture

In 2003 in Maputo, African leaders committed to spending at least 10% of their national budgets on agriculture with a view to attaining 6% growth in the sector under the Comprehensive African Agriculture  Development Program (CAADP) which was set up to monitor the implementation of the Maputo Declaration. More than ten years later, only eight countries have kept that promise.

President Kikwete
ONE.org’s Executive Director for Africa, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, joined by ONE Africa’s Media Manager Nde Ndifonka, presents the petition to President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania.

ONE.org launched the petition as part of its ‘Do Agric, It Pays’ campaign on January 21, in support of the 2014 AU Year of Agriculture. The petition urges African leaders to collectively adopt an enhanced CAADP framework during the AU Heads of State summit in Malabo in June 2014, that will open up opportunities in the agriculture sector for millions of smallholder farmers and young people who are trapped in poverty. Six hundred thousand Africans have so far signed the petition, and many more are joining the cause daily.

President Kikwete of Tanzania later that day accepted the petition from Dr. Moyo and promised his support in rallying his peers to support the cause for better agricultural development, ahead f the AU Summit in June in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: “I will be taking this petition to Malabo in support of the campaign, you have my full support.”

PM Moussa Mara also reiterated his support for agricultural development, and noted that agriculture is at the centre of Mali’s development.

“I am glad that Africans have rallied behind this campaign, and as leaders, we will continue to work to find effective solutions to job creation and economic development, agricultural growth being a major portal for that. Our government is very committed to agriculture, and you have our full support to bring this campaign to Mali.”

Earlier in the day, popstar and Do Agric, It Pays ambassador, D’banj presented the petition to Nigerian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, at a joint press briefing that also featured Founder of Heirs Holding Tony Elumelu, African Development Bank President Mr. Donald Kaberuka, and Dr. Sipho S. Moyo.

Popstar and Do Agric, It Pays ambassador, D’banj, flanked by  Tony Elumelu and Dr Sipho Moyo presents the petition to Nigerian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina
Popstar and Do Agric, It Pays ambassador, D’banj, flanked by Tony Elumelu and Dr Sipho Moyo presents the petition to Nigerian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina

The conference was organized by ONE.org, in collaboration with the African Business Roundtable, to discuss the role of catalytic public investments in agricultural development.

In accepting the petition, HE Adesina lauded the contribution of ONE.org’s DO Agric campaign to the development of agriculture in Nigeria:

“Your work has taken agriculture out of obscurity into the mainstream. Nigeria remains committed to agricultural development as the quickest means to economic development. We are not only at the forefront of innovative reforms and technological development in the sector, but we are also collaborating and exchanging ideas with other active countries such as Rwanda. Our electronic wallet programme has enabled us to reach 10.5 million farmers with support, and this has provided a template that is being emulated by countries such as India,” he said.

Dr. Moyo called on Nigeria as a leading African nation to continue to champion this cause and scale up its public investments in agriculture, in line with its Maputo commitments. This she said, will help to catalyze both domestic and private sector participation, and ensure that the government’s flagship programs designed to promote the development of agricultural value chains benefit smallholder farmers. 

“It is estimated that agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa today is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector including mining, oil and gas. The majority of Nigeria’s poor live in rural areas and over 14 million families depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Increased strategic government-led investment in agriculture, complimented by private sector investment is therefore crucial now, more than ever. This will help ensure that more Nigerians at the grassroots benefit from laudable programs such as the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and the country’s inspirational search for 750 000 ‘Nagropreneurs’,” Dr. Moyo said.

“Being Africa’s most populous country, and the continent’s biggest economy, any further gains in agricultural development in Nigeria could mean a giant step forward in the continent’s fight against poverty.” she concluded

Tony Elumelu called on entrepreneurs to seize the benefits of agricultural investment in Africa:

Dr Sipho Moyo, Nachilala Nkombo and Nde Ndifonka present the Do Agric petition to Prime Minister Moussa Mara of Mali, during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria.

“Agriculture is a transformative sector for any economy and offers many opportunities for business and job growth across the continent. This is why I am working through Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation to make investments in agriculture in Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria, in partnership with smallholder farmers.  The impact of our technical and financial investments would be multiplied by public investments in access to finance, infrastructure and skills development. Thus, I want to encourage African governments to continue to scale up their commitments to these enabling public investments.”

Donald Kaberuka called for increased agricultural investments as a means to kick-start economies and grow DECENT jobs:

“As African leaders, we need to lay a special emphasis on those sectors that generate more economic opportunities for the vast majority of Africans, and plough revenues harnessed from Africa’s natural resources into job creating sectors such as agriculture.”

ONE.org’s key policy recommendations are outlined in the recent policy report: ‘Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation’, released in support of the 2014 African Union Year of Agriculture. The report tracks the progress of African countries in agricultural development over the last decade, since 2003 in Maputo when African Heads of State committed to investing at least 10% of their national budgets in agriculture.