Former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged African leaders to prioritise the use of technology in agriculture as a means of bridging current production gaps and fast-tracking the attainment of self-sufficiency in food production in the continent.
Jonathan described innovation as the bedrock of all transformative change, stressing that embracing innovative technologies in agriculture would foster resilience and help address food insecurity.
The former president stated this at the maiden African Conference On Agricultural Technologies (ACAT) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.
He added that such innovations would empower farmers, improve yields, and boost income.
Jonathan said: “Innovation must be part of our resolute course to re-shaping our agricultural outlook that should help our farmers to ably adopt new approaches to effectively withstand or overcome the myriad of challenges that currently bedevils the sector.
“It is by being creative and innovative that we as a people and a continent can bestow on ourselves a well secure food, nutrition and economic prosperity.
“Africa has made significant strides in accessing and adopting technology, but there is still much more to be done.
“We must invest in research and development, integrate cutting-edge science in the development of advanced innovative technologies to enhance precision agriculture, biotechnology, and digital platforms that connect farmers with knowledge and skill from planning through production to markets.”
The former president, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, stated that Africa needs to adopt technology in agriculture not just to be able to feed the people of the continent but also to be able to process its produce for export and economic growth.
Jonathan, who is an ambassador of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), noted that inclusivity in innovation is crucial for equitable development and growth in the sector, adding that “the youth, in particular, must be encouraged to see agriculture as a viable, modern, and profitable career.”
While highlighting the importance of technology in large scale agriculture, the former president however made a case for the production of simple implements for small holder farmers who, he said, remain a key factor in African agriculture and employment generation.
He added: “Our smallholder farmers, who make up the backbone of our agriculture, should not be left behind. Innovations should be tailored to suit the needs of these farmers and address their concerns.
“Resources, both financial and technological, should be made accessible to these farmers to also allow them to innovate, to invent and to participate in economic development more usefully.”