TICAD VI Promoting Social Stability for Shared Prosperity
It is a great honor to have this opportunity of addressing you today.
Let me congratulate you, first of all, on identifying a number of key objectives and themes to be addressed by this TICAD meeting, one of which is “Promoting Social Stability for Shared Prosperity.”
In 1984, when a large-scale famine struck East Africa, I saw children who could hardly open their eyes because they were so hungry. It was then that I decided to deliver food to those who were suffering from hunger. With the cooperation of Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, I established the Sasakawa Africa Association and began the Sasakawa Global 2000 Programs, commonly known as SG2000 in the Sub-Saharan region.
For more than thirty years, the Sasakawa Africa Association has been involved in sharing agricultural methods and skills among smallholder farmers in Africa. Today I would like to comment on two areas that are given special emphasis at the Sasakawa Africa Association.
First, we believe that human resources development of agricultural instructors are especially important. In SG2000, we have placed importance on equipping smallholder farmers with knowledge and technology that will improve their quality of life. We have cooperated with fourteen countries and provided technical training needed to increase agricultural production.
Furthermore, in cooperation with 24 universities and colleges here in Africa, we have also trained nearly 6,000 agricultural extension agents. These extension agents then go from farm to farm, teaching techniques directly to each farmer. In this way, this instruction has not only enabled the transfer of techniques and technology, but it has also created the possibility of sustainable agricultural practices.
Second, we support smallholder farmers in efforts to diversify their activities. Rather than concentrating only on production, it is possible to increase their income by processing agricultural products and selling them as high-quality, value-added products. To achieve this, at the Sasakawa Africa Association, we focus on strengthening this value chain.
We actively support Farmer Based Organizations or FBOs, which are groups of individual farmers. They pursue efficiency by purchasing seeds and fertilizer together and marketing the harvest collectively.
We also provide groups of young people who are looking for work, with agricultural equipment that would be too expensive for one person to purchase. With this equipment, they can then offer related services as a business, for example, shelling and milling maize, or threshing and polishing rice, which creates new work opportunities for young people and women.
In recent years, young people have been leaving their villages in search of higher paying jobs in the city. In cities, however, there are not enough employment opportunities for all, and this has produced the serious issue of high unemployment among the young. By introducing new approaches and practices to agriculture, we are making agriculture attractive to the young people of Africa who are its future, and in this way, we hope to promote further growth and prosperity.
It is my wish that the governments and companies represented here today will strengthen cooperation with us, and we will also renew our commitment to improving the quality of life of smallholder farmers and providing attractive workplace through agriculture to the future generation. And by doing so, the Sasakawa Africa Association hopes to promote social stability for shared prosperity through agriculture.