Umesh Baurai and Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh, 20th June, 2008:African agriculture ministers are meeting in Nairobi to discuss the worsening food security problem. The 25th Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional conference hopes to find solutions to the food situation that has already sparked off food riots in Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Egypt and Burkina Faso.
Lack of policy implementation has increased food imports, costing Africa about $20 billion annually since 2000. The five-day conference sought remedial measures to combat rising food shortages, costs and high fuel prices that have heightened food production and distribution costs posing a starvation threat to the region.
William Ruto, Agriculture Minister, Kenya, who also chairs the meeting, admitted that the continent was not giving priority to the agricultural sector in their annual budgets. Kenya for instance, allocated KES 11.7 billion (about $186 million) to the agriculture ministry, a far much lower allocation compared to 42 billion (about $667million) for the security or education ministries. "Many Africa governments admit that agriculture is the engine for growth but our economies have neither allocated sufficient funds nor developed appropriate well researched policies and programs to make agriculture the focal point that it really is", Ruto said.
For more information, contact Daniel Otunge (email@example.com) of ISAAA AfriCenter