Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says Africa needs a new generation of farmers on the continent to resolve the yawning gap of food insecurity.
He decried the current situation where approximately 40 million Africans according to a U.N report go to bed without food even though the continent has the largest population of youth capable of producing more food.
The former president was speaking in Mankessim, Central Region of Ghana at a presidential Youth Dialogue as part of the African Youth and Governance Convergence organized by Youth Bridge Foundation in Partnership with AU ECOSSOC with technical support from the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre.
Over the next 5 days, young people from 27 African countries and the diaspora from Dalhousie and Cornell Universities in Canada and the U.S will deliberate on the theme Advancing Youth Inclusive Governance, Peace and Security: The Digital Innovation Factor.
President Obasanjo questioned why the continent prides itself with over 60 percent of arable land yet import chicken and other farm produce from countries like Dubai less endowed with agricultural land.
“Vietnam never produced coffee but now it has produced enough to become the 7th largest producer in the world in a space of 6 years, we need a new generation of farmers in Africa” he said.
He recalled how covid 19 pushed him to start a fish farm on his property and can now boast of 1 million Catfish and half a million Tilapia. “We need our leaders to focus and if we focus, maximum 6 to 7 years, we will put food insecurity in Africa behind us” he said.
He called on young people to engage in large scale soilless and greenhouse farming in cities and create a value chain for agribusiness.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is also Eminent Fellow of the African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC) and the Chief Promoter of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library asked the youth to reject the idea that they are future leaders. “You must be leaders of today and not tomorrow, don’t believe in that statement”.
The octogenarian entreated young people to organize themselves well in order to resolve problems confronting the Youth. He also enjoined delegates to think outside the box while taking advantage of opportunities that abound on the continent and elsewhere.
The Presidential dialogue afforded delegates attending the 15th African Youth and Governance Convergence to quiz the former head of state on a number of issues from security on the continent, women empowerment and politics to digital innovation.
Earlier, delegates visited the Elmina chief and his elders, Assin Manso Slave River site and the Elmina Castle Dungeon to connect with their ancestors and learn the atrocities meted out to innocent Africans as part of a week-long activities during the convergence.
The African Youth and Governance Convergence now in its 15th year affords young people from across 40 African countries and African Americans from the diaspora to deliberate and come out with home grown solutions, be empowered and become change agents in their various communities.
Youth Bridge Foundation also partnered Hydra cyber security services, Dalhousie University, the Obasanjo Presidential Library, Vesti, JSE productions Diba, CTA and Magic Hands for this year’s convergence.