$30bn boost for African agri­cul­ture

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

IT was a block­buster mo­ment for African agri­cul­ture last week as African lead­ers, busi­nesses, and ma­jor devel­op­ment part­ners pledged more than US$30 bil­lion dol­lars in in­vest­ments to in­crease pro­duc­tion, in­come and em­ploy­ment for small­holder farm­ers and lo­cal African agri­cul­ture busi­nesses over the next ten years.

The col­lec­tive pledges at the 2016 African Green Revo­lu­tion Fo­rum (AGRF) are be­lieved to rep­re­sent the largest pack­age of fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments to the African agri­cul­tural sec­tor to date, backed by the broad­est coali­tions ever as­sem­bled in sup­port of food pro­duc­tion on the con­ti­nent.

Econet Zim­babwe founder Strive Masiyiwa, who is AGRF Part­ners chair­man, recorded the spe­cific com­mit­ments in de­tail and called for other in­vestors and part­ners to join the “Seize the Mo­ment” cam­paign dur­ing the year ahead.

AfDB Pres­i­dent Akin Adesina noted that a “key pil­lar” of the AfDB work will be sup­port for the tech­nolo­gies for African agri­cul­tural trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme, which is scal­ing up var­i­ous agri­cul­ture tech­nolo­gies for mil­lions of farm­ers.

He said AfDB sup­port will also ac­cel­er­ate ac­cess to com­mer­cial fi­nanc­ing, but­tressed by proven ap­proaches to re­duc­ing risks of com­mer­cial lend­ing to small­holder farm­ers and other agri­cul­ture busi­nesses.

“Now is the time to come to the aid of our long-suf­fer­ing farm­ers and give them the mod­ern agri­cul­ture tech­nolo­gies they need to en­sure a good re­turn for their labour and hard work,” Adesina said.

The com­mit­ments were made at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the sixth AGRF that has at­tracted more than 1,500 in­flu­en­tial fig­ures from 40 coun­tries for three days of bro­ker­ing new agri­cul­tural ini­tia­tives.

The his­toric in­vest­ments rep­re­sent just the first wave of sup­port for the new “Seize the Mo­ment” cam­paign, one backed by the African Union Com­mis­sion, the New Part­ner­ship for Africa’s Devel­op­ment (NEPAD), the African Devel­op­ment Bank (AfDB), the Al­liance for a Green Revo­lu­tion in Africa AGRA), key NGOs, com­pa­nies and donor coun­tries.

While African agri­cul­ture has seen sig­nif­i­cant progress in the last ten years, the “Seize the Mo­ment” cam­paign is a frank ac­knowl­edg­ment that much more is needed for African coun­tries to achieve in­clu­sive eco­nomic devel­op­ment—and ul­ti­mately re­alise the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs).

The cam­paign is a de­ci­sive push for the po­lit­i­cal, pol­icy, and fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments es­sen­tial to trans­form­ing Africa’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The goal: a new era of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for the 70 per­cent of the African pop­u­la­tion that de­pend on farm­ing for food and in­come, yet too of­ten face poverty and poor nu­tri­tion.

Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta of­fi­cially opened AGRF 2016 Thurs­day by lay­ing out a bold vi­sion for how agri­cul­ture trans­for­ma­tion should play out across Africa.

Com­mit­ting to de­liver on both the po­lit­i­cal and pol­icy agenda, Pres­i­dent Keny­atta an­nounced his gov­ern­ment will in­vest US$200 mil­lion so at least 150 000 young farm­ers and young agri­cul­ture en­trepreneurs can gain ac­cess to mar­kets, fi­nance, and in­sur­ance.

He called on fel­low heads of state across Africa to step-up and in­vest ag­gres­sively over the next five years in agri­cul­tur­ere­lated en­deav­ours.

Gayle Smith, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID), set the tone for the day with a call for in­vestors and donors to be bold and do their part to achieve “A Food-Se­cure 2030”.

The US has in­vested more than $6.6 bil­lion in global food se­cu­rity and nu­tri­tion ef­forts through its Feed the Fu­ture ini­tia­tive.

Other agri­cul­ture in­vestors and devel­op­ment part­ners who an­nounced new fi­nan­cial and pol­icy com­mit­ments in­cluded the African Devel­op­ment Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, Kenya Com­mer­cial Bank (KCB) Group, OCP Africa, World Food Pro­gramme, Yara In­ter­na­tional ASA, and the In­ter­na­tional Fund for Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment (IFAD).

Pres­i­dent Keny­atta, as chair of the African peer re­view mech­a­nism con­cluded the cer­e­mony by call­ing for a con­ti­nen­tal score­card that will mea­sure and track the com­mit­ments to agri­cul­ture trans­for­ma­tion and en­sure they trans­late into ac­tion.

Mean­while, the World Food Pro­gramme ( WFP) has com­mit­ted to pur­chas­ing at least US$120 mil­lion of its agri­cul­tural prod­ucts each year from small­holder farm­ers through a part­ner­ship called the Pa­tient Pro­cure­ment Plat­form. — agrf.org

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta

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