The groundnut pyramids of Kano Nigeria, the cotton bells of Sokoto, and the floating timbers off the coast of Niger; this was the future that was. It was a land filled with milk and honey, a cup running over with wealth. Rumors said that she would feed thousands and hunger would never be heard of amongst her children–until she became a shadow of herself.
This is the story of Africa.
In his speech at the opening of the 6th General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), held during the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week in Accra, Ghana, Kanayo Nwanze was quick to mention that Africa is the continent with the highest amount of arable land left unused. The stark disparity in the agricultural productivity of the Africa that used to exist and that which exists now is one that gets people thinking. What happened to the Africa of the 60’s and 70’s, when many African nations were net exporters of major agricultural products?
The past is long gone and Africans have started asking what the way forward is. We have gone back to the drawing board, figured out what the problem is, and now we must move on from there. The efforts put in by African agriculturists to find the way forward are to be commended. But as Nwanze said, “the task ahead of us is more complex than it was 40 years ago. Food prices are higher and the world’s population is pushing 9 billion with Africa at the forefront of that growth.”
That said, Africans must realize that the Africa of the 60s and 70s hasn’t really gone anywhere. She remains within us and it is our duty to bring her out and let her shine once again. As Nwanze made clear in his speech, no country became developed as a result of external assistance.
Africans must realize, then, that the development of Africa rests upon their own shoulders.
Blogpost by Toluwani Adekunle, a social media reporter for AASW6.
Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT).