Participants at an ‘Experts Dialogue’ held in Accra, have called for African countries to be more innovative in product development and ethical issues, to derive optimal benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA’s aims at creating a single continental market for goods and services, through the free movement of business, persons and investments, and by so doing, accelerate intra-African trade.
The event, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa’s (FARA) - the apex continental body responsible for coordinating agriculture science research in the continent, brought together scientists and officials from public institutions.
“The implications of AfCFTA on the development and application of science technology and innovation in the continent’s food and agriculture systems”, was the theme chosen for the dialogue.
It provided the platform to discuss issues affecting agriculture and how the AfCFTA is going to catalyze intra-African trade.
Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director of FARA said application of science and technology played key role in food production, processing and storage, to meet the rapid population growth and expansion of market frontiers.
The AfCFTA, he noted, presented a tremendous opportunity for African agribusinesses to increase their share of the huge agriculture and food market - to create jobs and incomes for the millions of livelihoods that were dependent on this sector.
Dr. Abdulrazark Ibrahim, Capacity Development Expert at FARA, drew attention to put in place proper systems, planning and home grown solutions to food safety issues.
This required building the capacity of scientists and the regulatory bodies and to equip the local people, especially youth and women with the right skills to adapt to changes that would come with AfCFTA.
Mrs. Levina Owusu, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said priority should be focused on productivity, value addition, improving product quality and competitiveness.
Mr. Emmanuel K. Bensah, the Deputy Country Director, AfCFTA Policy Network-Ghana and Diaspora, expressed optimism that with the implementation of the right policies and the right regional coordination, the AfCFTA would help to deliver the Africa Union Agenda 2063, aimed at transforming the continent into a global economic powerhouse.