African agricultural economists converge on Abuja for triennial conference

Ene Okwanihe, Abuja

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Agricultural Economist on the African continent have converged on Abuja Nigeria’s Capital as Nigeria for the first time host African Association of Agricultural Economist (AAAE) Conference with the theme “Rising to meet new challenges: Africa’s agricultural development beyond 2020 vision.”

The Conference which is the 6th in it edition is aimed at ensuring that the agricultural sector on the continent works for the benefit of Africans by supporting capacity building activities, contributing to policies, research and development on African Agriculture.

Declaring the conference open, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Dr. Mohammed Umar charged African youth to stop trying to cross the desert into Europe while encouraging them to remain on the continent to do agriculture, develop agribusiness and create wealth.

He said Africa as a continent has no business importing food as the continent is blessed with all the required naturals resources to attain food security, saying all Africa needs is to harness these resources.

Dr. Umar. Added that the Nigerian government will partner African Development Bank to Industrialise the Agriculture sector in the country.

Speaking, the President of AAAE, Dr Edward Mabaya said the conference brings together leaders in academia, Government and the private sector to address the key challenges facing the African continent in the areas of food security and nutrition security.

He said series of papers would be presented by experts over the next 3 days which would discuss key issues and give recommendations which according to him would influence government policies, donor investment on agricultural development.

Am glad to be here in the occasion of the 6th Association of African Agricultural Economists, this is a Conference that we hold every 3 years where we bring together leaders in academia, from private sector and from industry to address the key challenges facing the African continent in the areas of food security and nutrition security.”

Dr. Mabaya said in the next 3 days the Conference will get papers from world leaders and experts to be discussed and pertinent recommendations that will influence government policy, donor investment and private sector investment on agricultural development will be proffered.

He stated that the theme of the conference will address emerging challenges in the sector.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Africa rising to meet new challenges’. Yes, Africa has got a lot of challenges some of which are from the past, these include low agricultural productivity, gender and equity issues, but we also have new emerging issues that are coming up, these include climate change, digital agriculture.

We believe that as a profession, we have to remain current by addressing these new emerging challenges that is facing the profession, while also being cognizant of all the challenges that we are still facing in agriculture development across the continent.

I believe that the continent of Africa cannot develop itself unless we can develop the agricultural sector first,” Dr Mabaya noted.

While speaking with journalists, the Program Coordinator of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Dr Chrysantus Akem said why they decided do to participate in the conference was because the agriculture Economists do more of theoretical application, while TAAT do more of the practical.

Basically when we look at agriculture economist, we see it more like a theoretical application, TAAT for example is taking things in the practical sense, looking at how can we optimize production and maximize profit, and that is what agriculture economics is all about, it is about economics of production, economics of finances and we see ourselves like a practical aspect of basically putting agricultural economies into reality.”

That’s why we thought we should participate in this particular conference, we have a panel on Wednesday which we are going to give an overview of the program, what it’s all about, how far we have come and we have the audience to ask questions for clarifications because we think we have to bring everybody on board,” Dr Akeem said