NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday asked Africa to have a comprehensive approach to boost agricultural productivity in the continent.
Speaking at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Mrs Clinton said the use of modern technology to provide relevant information and research on disease resistant crops needs to be considered.
“This is the time to innovate, innovation in terms of micro-finance, some several countries farmers are using cell phones to check on prices in nearby markets, in Uganda they are receiving text messages about how to diagnose and treat local crop diseases, they are a crucial piece of what must be comprehensive approach to agriculture,” she said.
Though she noted that the continent is affected by factors such as wars, climate change and crop diseases she said African governments should rise up to the challenges and address them through research and adoption of new technologies.
She asked them to invest more in agriculture since it is a strong basis of economic growth that can fight poverty by creating employment and providing food.
She pledged her countries support to continue partnering with KARI and other like minded organisations to advance in the area of research in view of improving food security.
Mrs Clinton however expressed concerns that African countries were not utilising their local markets as well as trading among themselves.
She laid her emphasis on empowering women through provision of important agricultural facilities.
“Kenya can be the leader for the rest of Africa, as we scale up our efforts, let us try to support those who do the work. Women are the backbone in Africa, to succeed we must work with women,” she said.
Mrs Clinton also acknowledged Africa’s rich resources saying the continent has the biggest arable land in the world and appealed to its governments to make use of the agricultural potential in their countries.
“In some of the world’s most populous regions, the land available for farming is shrinking rapidly, more and more the world will look to Africa to be its bread basket, and I hope when the world looks at Africa to be its bread basket, it will be Africans who will benefit from becoming bread baskets,” she said.
Agriculture Minister William Ruto who accompanied Mrs Clinton to KARI said search for new variety crops that can withstand harsh conditions and at the same time increase productivity was a sure way of addressing many climate challenges affecting agriculture in Kenya.