In the last century, the Green Revolution that brought high agriculture productivity as a result of technological advancements in most developing countries did not reach Africa. But there seems to be a lot of hope for the African continent as we now eye an agriculture that thrives as oppose to an agriculture that survives.
For the last decade, African leaders and policymakers have been laying the foundations for a large scale transformation in Africa’s agriculture. An agriculture that will be powered by the enormous progress evident in farmers who are gaining more options in the seeds they plant, the fertilizers they use, and the markets available to purchase their produce.
This September, in Nairobi, the 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), brought together critical stakeholders in the African agriculture landscape. These included Heads of State, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, NGOs, civil society among others. They met to advance policies and secure investments that will ensure a better life for millions of African farmers and families. The theme of this year’s AGRF was Seize the Moment: Securing Africa’s Rise through Agricultural Transformation.
Established in 2010, the AGRF is technically and financially supported by the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Rockefeller Foundation. These organisations and other funders stepped up this year to increase their funding for agriculture. But the real revolution began in 2006 when the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Rockefeller Foundations jointly launched the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA), a landmark frontline initiative for African agriculture.
The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, as the host of the meeting, led by example and pledged to invest $250 million over the next five years to support young farmers.
President Obama, through his top Africa advisors, Gayle Smith, informed the meeting that he has secured Congressional approval to invest more than $ 6 billion in the years to come, to secure livelihoods through agricultural development. American companies are also stepping up investment into African agri-business, as part of the President’s strategy.
With rapidly growing urban populations and an urgent need to create jobs, agriculture offers solutions by providing employment opportunities for many Africans.
ONE Africa Executive Director, Mwambu Wanendeya who attended the conference, took the opportunity to engage with the President of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame.
President Kagame as the first champion of the “Seize the Moment” campaign called the meeting to talk less and act more. In Rwanda, they have ensured that agricultural transformation is at the center of the economic transformation and improvements in human well-being. Agriculture is not just one sector of the economy amongst others, it’s the backbone of the Rwanda economy, he noted.
It was also an opportunity to have a quick evaluation of ONE’s past engagements in Tanzania. ONE met with the Tanzania minister of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, Eng. Dr. Charles J. Tizeba and discuss on how to further cooperation in the agriculture sector.
The ambition of the forum was to accelerate the progress of agriculture’s contribution to economic growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for all, in line with delivering on the Malabo Goals and targets.
Before the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit and CAADP biennial review in January 2018, the AGRF partners pledged to: pursue a political, policy and business agenda intended to accelerate smallholder-inclusive agricultural transformation in at least 20 countries; unlock at least US $200 billion in investment in African agriculture; and develop a concise agricultural transformation scorecard for accountability and action under the leadership of African Union institutions.
The AGRF 2016 concluded with an agreement that the 2017 AGRF will be co-hosted by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, AfDB and AGRA in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Agriculture is one sure way of securing Africa’s future and pulling the continent out of poverty. Add your voice to millions of people who are pushing for governments to commit to ending poverty through investing in economic development issues such as agriculture. Join ONE.