Under the theme, “Seize the Moment: Africa Rising through Agricultural Transformation”, 1, 500 delegates among them African Heads of States, high-level officials and agriculture experts from more than 40 countries have vowed to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments for farmers and agribusinesses on the continent at the 6th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
“There is unprecedented agreement here in Kenya and across Africa that big investments in agriculture are the key to food security and strong economic growth,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We need to capitalize on this consensus- particularly with drought exposing long-standing vulnerabilities in food production and crashing commodity prices demanding more sustainable economic strategies that agriculture clearly can provide,” he added.
“Seize the Moment” is also the name of an ambitious Africa-wide agriculture campaign by the African Union (AU); the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other non-governmental organizations and donor countries.
The campaign is expected to bring a worldwide call to action from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), energized by President Barack Obama’s Global Food Security initiative which is aligned to the AU’s agriculture agenda for the continent.
The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the co-founders of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which hosts the annual Forum, are expected to endorse the campaign.
AGRA works under the leadership of Africans from farming communities towards changing the reality of agriculture in Africa from a solitary struggle to a thriving business with the belief that Africa cannot only feed itself but also the rest of the world.
The Presidents of Rwanda and Ghana are expected to highlight detailed, nationwide agriculture development strategies covering multi-year spending plans, policy reforms and accountability scorecards at the Forum.
The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) will also outline efforts to give agriculture a higher profile in its loan portfolio and seek a similar commitment from other leading financial institutions.
KCB, East Africa’s largest commercial bank group contributed $100, 000 in August 2016 for the hosting of AGRF 2016.
Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless who also chairs AGRA’s board stated, “While much has been accomplished over the last decade, we need to work far more aggressively to tap the potential of agriculture to be a powerful engine of economic growth across Africa.”
“Just as we have seen in Africa’s telecom revolution, I believe the private sector can become a force for social change by transforming African agriculture,” Masiyiwa added. “Business-focused investments in production, processing and marketing can ensure that the soaring demand for food products among Africa’s urban consumers delivers new economic opportunities for rural communities and African youth.”
The 2016 African Agriculture Status Report (ASSR) subtitled “Progress towards an Agriculture Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa” will be released at AGRF.
The annual report analyzes the decade-long agricultural effort- the most successful development initiative in African history as well as future challenges and recommendations for overcoming them.
AGRF 2016 will also award the inaugural $100, 000 Africa Food Prize to the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Dr.Kanayo F. Nwanze for his inspiring drive of agricultural innovation on the continent.
It is hoped that the promises made at AGRF 2016 will soon be backed by new investments from African governments, development partners, the private sector and financial institutions.
AGRF 2016, consisting of plenary sessions, break-out sessions, business-to-business meetings and informal networking opportunities, is being held at the United Nations Complex in Nairobi, Kenya from 5th to 9th September, 2016.