Ministers of finance call for agricultural transformation in Africa

Ministers of finance from the continent called for an "agricultural transformation" at the Feeding Africa Conference Oct. 23.   

Christopher Mvunga, deputy minister of finance for Zambia, said commercially borrowed funds could be best used for updating agricultural infrastructure.

According to Mvunga, Zambia has spent $250 million of the $1.5 billion it has accrued from international sovereign bonds for the diversification of his nation's agriculture sector.

Although Zambia's main agricultural product is maize, experts have warned that the country needs to explore other products.

“We are embarking on a process to transform our agriculture and move our economy away from its dependence on staple food production and the copper,” Mvunga said.

Zambia has a national agriculture policy that calls for solutions to low production capacities, more research and the development of new agriculture technologies. It also calls for a number of financial investments to improve soil fertility and irrigation infrastructure as well as credit farmers.

“By simply turning Africa into a food self-sufficient continent, this sort of money can be spent on domestic development without recourse to expensive international capital markets,” Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank,“ said. Africa is now ready to make agriculture a commercial activity and to promote the diversification of the African economies.”

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