Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Statement by Somali President On Turkey-Africa Agriculture and Agribusiness Forum

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Excellency, Mr. Prime Minister Binali Yildrim  Excellency, Professor Alpha Conde, President of Guinea and Term President of the African Union,
Excellencies, Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honor and privilege to be blessed with the opportunity to open this crucial Ministerial level conference on Agriculture and Agribusiness here in this beautiful city of Antalya.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor of Antalya, the Turkish Government and its people for their warm hospitality and hosting this important and historical conference.

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There has never been a greater time and more important need to discuss these matters between Africa and Turkey, which are solid partners for progress and mutual prosperity.

Our beautiful and rich African continent is blessed with vast resources including ample arable land, which should be basis for food security, economic progress and strong rural communities. However, the challenges for the African agricultural sector is clear: Our cyclical droughts and the vast imports of food from other nations when they could be easily grown on our own soil.

One of the key reasons why this conference is timely is that in this age of food insecurity, climate change challenges, high youth unemployment and unprecedented urbanization, we must take both the rural areas and their potential to lead to sustainable development in diverse forms very seriously. In this regard, Africa has much to learn from and share with the brotherly State of Turkey which is one of the most food secure nations in the World with a strong and established agribusiness with global reach.

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What makes learning from each other important at this crucial junction is that the global population is increasing rapidly with virtually all the increase expected to occur in developing countries. The world’s largest population growth will be recorded in our beloved continent Africa during the period ahead. This large and growing rural population will depend even more on agriculture not only for food, but also for employment and income.

Agriculture may not be the most exciting subject, but without it we cannot feed ourselves. Today in Africa, it is absolutely heart breaking that our people are among the most malnourished and vulnerable to both hunger and the effects of climate change. It is up to us to ensure, that we overcome these devastating challenges, which holds us all back and further challenges our public expenditure through the need for direct interventions such as medical care which is expensive. With investment in Agriculture and the value added agribusiness, not only can we mitigate the negative policy impacts of food insecurity, but we can also turn the tide of our young and brightest leaving our continent for better opportunities for themselves and their families.

The partnership of Africa with Turkey can provide exactly the knowledge exchange and the technological advancement we need in Africa to cultivate the potential of our Agriculture and agribusiness. We already have the most important ingredient for success which is the vast arable land and with new partnerships such as the Turkish government and its private sector, which will bring new skills, technology and financing, we can achieve our full potential as a continent.

In Somalia, the most recent devastating drought, which could potentially still lead to famine is one of the cyclical crises that my Government is determined to overcome sustainably. We have prioritized food security, climate change and the creation of Agribusiness as a means of feeding, employing, upskilling and economically empowering our people. The Somali people, despite their recent surge towards urbanization, are a true people of the land. 50 percent of our GDP comes from the Agriculture. Somali bananas were world famous and we also produce a variety of produces and we have the potential of cultivating diverse agricultural produces across an enormous amount of agricultural land. This is an opportunity we will not waste and we invite you all to invest in Somalia.

This meeting must be one where we focus on immediate-to-long term deliverables to ensure a win-win partnership for all stakeholders who endeavor to achieve some of the most important African Union Vision 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The success of this conference’s outcomes and the results of our follow up will not be judged only by big institutions but by those they must benefit the most, our people.

I, once again, urge Turkish companies to invest in Somalia’s agriculture and agribusiness for the progress and prosperity of our two sides.

I thank you all for your time. It has been an honor to address you all.

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