The Burundian government has thrown its support behind farmers by subsiding as much as 70% of farmers’ day-to-day operating costs. Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye has now called on Africa’s leaders to do the same, including South Africa.
Agriculture is the landlocked country’s main industry, and during the United States-Africa Leaders Summit, Ndayishimiye proudly shared how his administration is looking after the country’s food producers.
Addressing leaders, Ndayishimiye pointed out that the subsidy aided the country’s food security efforts.
“With the stance that the government has taken, we have seen that 90% of [their] food production that the people of Burundi are consuming, is produced in Burundi. It is therefore important that government works together with farmers,” he said.
While African governments often have a hard time choosing who to support with the limited public funds at their disposal, this is hardly a problem for this coffee-producing nation.
No one is excluded
They believe that every citizen must have enough to eat and every farmer should have finances to sustain their agricultural businesses, Ndayishimiye said.
“The reason why we have taken this approach is that Burundi is an agricultural country, and we want our farmers to be involved throughout the entire sector’s value chain and revive the economy.
“We [have] also chosen this approach because the Burundi people are agricultural people and we want them to be a actively involved in the operations of the agriculture and to produce their own food,” explained Ndayishimiye.
Invest in African agriculture
Meanwhile, Wamkele Mene, secretary general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), told the summit that Africa and the U.S needed to take advantage of the opportunities ACFTA offered, specifically around agricultural development.
“There are a number of areas for investors, and we would encourage the American investors to really look closely [and see] how they can invest in Africa’s agriculture and agro-processing [industries].
“Today the African continent is facing a food security crisis, and we know that there are countries in Africa that can feed their own nations, but are unable to do so. There are countries with an excess of grain, [which can be] exported, however, that is not happening,” Mene said.
According to him, the missing link is a legal framework on how this process can be streamlined.
Menes also pointed out that they were working around the clock to ensure improved trade in agriculture as job security depended on it. In addition, they are boosting small and medium enterprises, which are predominantly led by women and youth on the African continent.
“We want to make sure that agro-processing creates jobs for young people in Africa through ACFTA. We, therefore, call on heads of state to take advantage since we’ve started to implement it,” he explained.
West African countries investment ready
In his supporting statement, African Union chairperson and president of Senegal, Macky Sall, called on American investors to sow their money onto Africa’s fields of agriculture.
“While we call on investors, it is [also] important for different governments to create an enabling environment for businesses and investors to do business in the continent,” Sall stated.
Côte d’Ivoire’s prime minister, Patric Achi, said they faced major transformation issues in the sector.
“For example, producers of cocoa in Ivory Coast get 6% of the total value of $144 billion. Where are you as a producer going to go with that percentage?”
The West African country is the world’s top exporter of cocoa beans with more and more young people becoming interested in farming.
“We have a growing and young population; 77% of our people are under the age of 35 years. It is for that reason we want a robust discussion on upskilling young people and transforming the sector so that jobs can be created. That is what we want to see changing,” he said.
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