OREANDA-NEWS. On October 21-23, Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economy, as well as Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Trade and Industry and Governors of Central Banks will join business leaders, academia, investment agencies, civil society and global experts in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss the future and transformation of agriculture in Africa.

The Feeding Africa Conference, organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), will be opened by its President, Adewumi Adesina, who will be joined by Senegalese President Macky Sall and the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Augustus Mpata Ponyo. The opening panel discussion on the visions of prosperity in agriculture will include former President of Ghana John Kufuor and the CEO of Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, amongst other high-profile leaders. 

The conference agenda will tackle the key challenges to Africa’s agricultural transformation, a priority area for the AfDB and essential to alleviating poverty and hunger on the continent as well as for spurring growth and creating jobs. The challenges that the conference will focus on include the modernization of the agricultural sector, access to credit in particular for women farmers, access to markets and building robust value chains, making farming attractive to youth, fostering gender equality, building regional trade and developing climate smart agriculture.

“When agriculture is managed with modern production technologies and appropriate input and output markets, it is transformative: it wipes out poverty and overhauls entire rural economies,” said AfDB President Adesina. African agriculture must move towards creating real wealth, Adesina stressed. “The questions we must tackle are how we get to the point where we are selling cocoa instead of our cocoa beans and exporting textiles instead of our cotton.”

About two-thirds of Africa’s employment is in the agriculture sector and the continent has about two-thirds of the world’s arable land, giving the sector huge potential. However, it annually imports food worth USD 35 billion. Worse still, 300 million Africans, that’s 1 in 4, suffer from hunger or malnutrition.

The goal of the conference is to get strong commitments form Governments to undertake the necessary steps towards Africa’s agricultural transformation. These include prioritizing agriculture, renewing private-sector engagement and engaging in innovative agriculture financing mechanisms for Africa.

The conference will produce a Roadmap that will outline the key actions required to deliver a Strategy for Transformation of African Agriculture.

The Conference is being hosted by the Government of Senegal and is supported by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Stay up to date and contribute to the discussion on twitter using the hashtag #dakAgri2015