With African leaders promising unprecedented action to energize the continent’s crucially important but often neglected agriculture sector, the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) begins today in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, offering an opportunity for all involved—African civil society, governments and businesses—to build a new consensus for transforming food production.
Nearly 1,000 participants are expected to attend the AGRF, including African Heads of State, Ministers, farmers, business leaders, representatives of youth and women’s organizations, and scientists.
The AGRF is the most significant Africa-wide gathering of agriculture experts, investors and farmers since the African Union issued its Malabo Declaration in June pushing for accelerated agricultural growth. In the Declaration, African Heads of State called for the doubling of food productivity in Africa, halving of poverty and significant progress toward the elimination of child under-nutrition by 2025.
“These goals represent a renewed political commitment, at the highest level, for agriculture-led growth across our region,” said African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, ahead of the AGRF. “We need to go further, faster. AGRF gives us the opportunity to hit the ground running and set in motion the plans and measurable steps needed for an inclusive, sustainable transformation of African agriculture by all actors.”
The theme of this year’s AGRF is “Beyond the Tipping Point: A New Vision and Strategies for Inclusive and Sustainable Transformation.” The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the African Union, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) are among the main sponsors of this year’s AGRF. (A full list of all partners is listed below.) 2014 also marks the African Year of Agriculture and Food Security.
The meeting will address critical issues for Africa’s food security: increasing food productivity as climate change presents more challenging growing conditions; promoting agricultural investment that generates benefits at all economic levels; increasing financing for agricultural development; and support for modernizing commodity markets and removing barriers to intra-regional trade.
“Africa’s smallholder farmers produce the vast majority of food grown on the continent and they are the backbone of a sector that employs more than 65 percent of all Africans,” said Strive Masiyiwa, chairman of AGRA. “So when businesses, governments, researchers and farmers work together to strengthen our food production and distribution systems, they are seeking commercial success that will be shared across African society—and particularly for the poorest among us.”
“I am proud that many African nations are becoming economic powerhouses, but without a viable agricultural sector and a strong rural economy, there cannot be a viable future for Africa,” said Kanayo Nwanze, president of IFAD. “Scaling up productivity in African agriculture so that it contributes to the prosperity of the women and men living in rural areas is an absolute pre-requisite of prosperity for our continent.”
AGRA will be releasing its second annual Africa Agricultural Status Report at the AGRF. The report focuses on the issue of African agriculture and climate change, and how to accelerate the adoption of climate smart agriculture by Africa’s smallholder farmers.
Cover: Kenyan farmer planting crops
Photo: The guardian