/ 17 July 2008

Annan urges more support for Africa’s farmers

African governments and overseas donors must do more to support small-scale farmers if the continent is to overcome a crippling food crisis, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an anti-hunger event in Johannesburg, Annan said it was critical that governments and the international community make fertiliser, farm equipment and other key inputs available to the poorest of Africa’s farmers.

”We’ve seen situations where the farmers need to plant, where food is needed, but because they cannot afford fertilisers they are planting a quarter or half [of what they would],” he said.

Annan retired from the UN last year and recently became the first chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, a group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to reverse Africa’s declining food production.

During his tenure at the UN, Annan, a Ghana national, often drew attention to the link between Africa’s failing agriculture systems and its persistent hunger and poverty.

He was joined on Wednesday by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other members of the Elders, a group of retired world leaders who are pushing for concerted international action on key issues, including Aids and human rights. — Reuters