Milestone: Partnering with AGRA at the African Green Revolution Forum in Ghana
It was a landmark moment for me to sign a Letter of Intent with AGRA at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, Ghana in early September. The LOI recognizes “the mutual interests of ETG and AGRA to catalyse the sustainable development of farmer livelihoods, farming ecosystems and agri-food value chains across Africa to foster food and job security for millions of farmers across Africa.” It provides a basic framework for cooperation and coordination between ETG and AGRA, and identifies specific areas where the two entities can work together. While ETG may fulfil roles related to off-taking, service delivery, input distribution, knowledge development, seed multiplication, access to technology and certification, AGRA is capable and willing to engage with market linkages, technical inputs, financial mobilization, and stakeholder mobilization.
The LOI sparked off dialogue between ETG representatives and AGRA staff holding diverse portfolios across Africa. These conversations explored multiple avenues for future partnerships, and ways forward to turn words into action. Specifically, ETG and AGRA will work on a concept to increase the net income of 20,000 smallholder maize and soybean farmers in Mozambique and indirectly enhance the nutritional status of thousands of beneficiaries through the production of fortified corn soy blends (CSB). In Tanzania, the goal is to increase the net income of 50,000 smallholder maize farmers in Mbeya region by expanding the market of maize through increased farm productivity and corn processing.
Besides our new partnership with AGRA, it was wonderful to personally experience the energy and excitement that 2,400 delegates from 89 countries brought to the annual conference. AGRF is now firmly established as the primary platform centred on transforming Africa’s agriculture by placing smallholder farmers at the core of the development of its economies – a mission that strongly resonates with my own. I must commend H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana, for hosting such a vibrant event for the second time since its launch in Africa in 2010. The diversity of the attendees, in terms of the sectors they represent, as well as the presence of high-profile stakeholders, including many ministers and senior government officials from across the world, was a testament to AGRF’s mandate and its ability to execute it.
AGRF 2019’s theme was “Grow Digital – Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.” The various plenaries, symposiums and roundtables that took place exposed the critical conversations and initiatives that are happening around the continent to leverage digitalisation in giving African agriculture the springboard it needs to reach new heights. There is evidence that digital innovation is happening far and wide. But I also recognise the need for the consolidation of information and programmes such that best practices are shared, successful projects are scaled up, and that the focus continues to be the farmer.
At the AGRF Presidential Summit that took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 3rd September and that was moderated by the former British Prime Minister Hon. Tony Blair, state leaders came together to discuss the challenges facing Africa’s agriculture, but also to celebrate its successes. H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was proud to share that as a result of the flagship Planting For Food and Jobs Campaign, there was a bumper harvest of produce in 2018 and resultantly, not a single grain of maize was imported. “Ghana on its own should be capable of feeding West Africa,” he said.
I left AGRF feeling hopeful that we are all on the right track, and that agriculture is firmly on the agenda of all those interested in Africa’s progress. But we have to work cohesively and collaboratively. It is partnerships such as the one we have forged with AGRA which will ultimately bear fruit – pun unintended, and I look forward to keeping you posted on the upcoming projects!
Climate change is real. It affects developing nations disproportionately as compared to developed nations. Developing nations should not wait for help to do good for the environment but work towards ensuring that these challenges are met headlong. They should know that sustainability goals and development is not mutually exclusive.
Africa has abundant resources to be the food factory for the world. This holds true especially for vegetable oil crops such as Sunflower, palm, soybean and rapeseed. Tanzania provides ideal conditions for growing sunflower at scale and supply it’s oil to the major consuming nations such as India.
We need to find solutions to ensure we can not just stop but reverse climate change. One solution is regenerative agriculture that can not only improve the yields for the farmers, but also reduce their carbon footprint.