By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The African Union has disclosed that public spending on agriculture in Africa has risen by over 7% following intensive efforts by the continental body to boost the agricultural sector through initiatives like the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, says the increase in spending is commendable but much more must be done on the continent.
She adds that for transformative growth to be realised through the agriculture sector, the marginalised, vulnerable, women and young people must be taken care of so that no one is left out.
Ms Tumusiime says AU-member states must ensure they tackle all challenges in order for transformative growth to take place on the continent.
She says 2014 being the year for Agriculture and Food Security, more needs to be done to ensure that this sector which employs over 75% of Africa's workers improves livelihoods and transforms lives.
Ms Tumusiime said this during the official opening of the three day senior officials meeting on agriculture, rural development, fisheries and aquaculture at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning.
Meanwhile, the meeting has attracted experts, government officials and organisations from across the African continent who are expected to come up with a policy framework and recommendations ahead of the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture which will take place from first to second May this year.
Senior officials and experts from Zambia's Ministry of Agriculture are also attending the senior officials meeting.
Zambia's Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde is expected in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to represent Zambia at the joint ministerial conference.
Mr Monde, together with other Ministers of Agriculture from across the continent, are expected to adopt recommendations from the senior officials meeting that are expected to boost agriculture on the continent.
The African Union has declared 2014 as the year for Agriculture and Food Security and several activities have been lined up to press member states to prioritise agriculture.
The theme for the year of agriculture is Transforming Africa's agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.
This year, the continental body is also taking stock of CAADP which was launched in 2003.
40 countries have so far embraced CAADP and signed the compact.
In June this year, the African Union heads of state summit is expected to adopt targets that are aimed at accelerating agriculture on the continent.