African governments have been advised to scale up investments in the agriculture sector to enhance productivity and ensure food security on the continent.
These were the remarks made at the opening of the second African Union Private Sector and Agribusiness Forum in Kigali, on Thursday.
Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the Africa Union Commissioner in charge of Rural Economy and Agriculture said the initiative must be done in a more inclusive and sustainable manner.
The two-day annual conference brings together more than 100 agronomists, policy makers, business leaders, farmers and development partners from across Africa.
It is expected to lay a concrete foundation for the transformation of agriculture across the content.
Tumusiime noted that doubling agro productivity will transform the continent's economic growth.Agro business, she said, is poised for global growth; however, both public and the private sector must complement each other for Africa to benefit from this growth.
"More resources will have to be extended to women and youth along the value chain to enable them to transform the sector," Tumusiime said.
African governments are spending more than 40 billion U.S. dollars annually on food importation and yet food can locally be produced on the continent.
"If we are to take agriculture as a business, it has to be well funded and streamlined from a multi-sectoral perspective," she added.
As part of the sustained Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the African Union Commission has spearheaded efforts to engage the private sector in identifying opportunities for their increased participation in agricultural value chains in Africa.
"We have also highlighted and underscored the need to strengthen private sector participation in the program as part of expansion and strengthening agribusiness in African agricultural value chains," said Tumusiime.
Rwanda's Agriculture minister, Gerardine Mukeshimana, said there is need to turn the sector into a market oriented entity through increased resource mobilization.
"We must do more to connect farmers with buyers through rural infrastructure development, technical training and most importantly scale up our budget allocations to the sector for sustained economic growth," she said, adding that agro business will grow faster only if the private sector takes a leading role.
Mukeshimana said Rwanda was the first country to sign up for CAADP, and more than 10 percent of the national budget goes to agriculture in order to stimulate its growth.
In Africa, agriculture employs more than 80 percent and contributes 20 percent of the continent's total exports and more than 40 percent total GDP.
In Rwanda, the sector grew by 5 percent and contributed 1.5 percentage points to the overall Gross Domestic Product growth during the second quarter of 2014.
Overall, the entire sector which employs about 80 percent of citizens contributed 33 percent of the country's economic growth.