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New Africa Partnership to Boost Agriculture

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Two major agricultural programs in Africa are partnering to bolster food security on the continent. They say African governments have to increase their investment in agriculture in order to combat the hazards caused by climate change.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, also known as AGRA, is teaming up with the New Partnership for African Development, or NEPAD.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Chairman of AGRA, says the move will help African governments to close the gap between intention and action.

Under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Program, African leaders have agreed to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture.

President of AGRA Namanga Ngongi says many African governments are not meeting that target. But, speaking to VOA on the phone from Nigeria's capital Abuja, he says investment in the agricultural sector is growing.

"There is a general trend in Africa today of making increasing investments in agriculture. The average has gone from four percent of national budgets to probably 5.5 percent today of national budgets being invested in agriculture," he said.

Ngongi says that together the two organizations will work with governments to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers growing Africa's staple crops.

He says with investment in new technology, African smallholdings will be much more productive.

"There are technologies on the shelf today that, if these were available to the majority of smallholder farmers, especially the women, they would be able to make a dramatic increase in their productivity," he said.

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Ngongi says climate change is already starting to have major affects on agriculture in Africa. He says new crops and technologies will be needed to manage the change.

"The need to focus on agriculture is growing because of climate change. There will be more and more frequent droughts, more frequent floods, and probably more also destruction," he said.

International aid agencies say millions of people face starvation in East Africa because of a drought that some scientists say may be a result of climate change.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said a total of 20 million people are dependent on international aid in the region.