afrol News, 3 June - President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar at a FAO summit in Rome today presented his strong views on a way out of Africa's food crisis, due to currently hiking food prices and global warming. In a six-point proposal, he told participants how Madagascar and Africa at large could achieve a "Green Revolution" within the framework of international free trade.
President Ravalomanana was one of many speakers at the FAO summit, but one of few state leaders to make concrete proposals on how to find a way out of the crisis spreading throughout Africa as consequence of skyrocketing food prices internationally.
He referred to the severe consequences for Madagascar, which saw large parts of its crops destroyed by a cyclone, further contributing to rising prices locally and creating widespread food insecurity. "I do not want that Madagascar is so economically dependent on the effects of cyclones," the President said. "I want Madagascar reach a level of development that allows us to absorb external shocks in an efficient manner."
Essentially, the solution was in increasing and diversifying the agricultural production of Madagascar, and of other food insecure countries. "We must find ways to become exporters rather than importers of foodstuffs. Prices immediately will drop by about 20 to 30 percent if we can achieve our goal of increasing agricultural productivity. Then, we can better absorb external shocks," Mr Ravalomanana said.
He thus presented a six-point list on how to achieve a Green Revolution. "First, we must strengthen the training of farmers," he said, adding that his government this month was to open a new Institute for Peasants. "We will soon have information centres and advice for farmers in all 22 regions of Madagascar. But we need support and incentives for these farmers," he added.
"Secondly, we must increase the yield per hectare using certified seed without being dependent on international seed producers," he outlined. "We need to improve cultivation techniques and methods of irrigation. We must make effective use of fertilizers of better quality while preserving the environment."
Thirdly, storage and infrastructure - especially port and airports - needed to be improved. "We need to develop a cold chain for producers at the ports or airports," President Ravalomanana said.
The last three points addressed the need to get better access to export markets for African products. The Malagasy President said it was necessary to develop systems to standardise quality products and have certification standards in line with what exports are meeting in Europe, the US and Asia. Then, new products to meet international demand needed to be developed
Finally, to better reach export markets, it was necessary to "adopt new marketing strategies to better penetrate the domestic and international markets, and also create new markets for a better added value of our products. We must create new partnerships with industrialised countries which respect the Kyoto Protocol," he said.
Commenting on his own proposal to "revive the Green Revolution in Africa," Mr Ravalomanana said "These are some very pragmatic proposals. They are based on my strong belief that free markets and free trade are the basis of international trade, but also that we need comprehensive action and responsibilities shared by all actors."
Concluding, President Ravalomanana criticised the great current focus on mineral and oil extraction in Africa. He said African countries should realise that they had more to offer that edible oils, minerals and cheap labour. "We should stop the looting of our natural and environmental resources. We should enhance the potential of our human resources. We should take better advantage of our wealth."
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