$30bn boost for African agriculture
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