African leaders call for new commitments to improve agriculture

Mr. Kofi Annan

African leaders on Thursday called for new commitments to strategise towards the transformation of agriculture potentials on the continent to make it a food basket of the world.

They made the call at the opening session of the on-going three-day African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra.

The AGRF is a public and private sector-led forum, bringing together African Heads of State, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, civil society and scientists.

It focuses on promoting investments and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way.

This public-private network is a catalyst for the African Green Revolution called for by former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in 2004.

The AGRF gathered momentum during three successful African Green Revolution Conferences in Oslo, Norway.

It is supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Yara, the Rockefeller Foundation, IFAD, NEPAD, African Development Bank and Standard Bank.

AGRF’s industry sponsor is Norad and other sponsors include African Export Import Bank, OCP and Ecobank. CNN is the broadcast media partner and Jeune Afrique and the Africa Report are print media partners.

AGRA aims to ensure that smallholders have what they need to succeed: good seeds and healthy soils; access to markets, information, financing, storage and transport; and policies that provide them with comprehensive support.

Through developing Africa’s high-potential breadbasket areas, while also boosting farm productivity across more challenging environments, AGRA works to transform smallholder agriculture into a highly productive, efficient, sustainable and competitive system, while protecting the environment.

Addressing the forum, Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Chairman of AGRA, attributed poverty and hunger in Africa to lack of finance, poor soil fertility and lack of policy support.

He called on African Governments to draw up comprehensive programmes to achieve their goal of eradicating hunger on the continent by 2015.

Mr Annan appealed to commercial farmers to render adequate support to smallholder farmers to produce enough food for the continent and support other humanitarian programmes across the globe.

“Funds must come from a combination of sources: African Governments, overseas development assistance, foreign direct investment, philanthropic contributions from within and outside Africa, and Africa’s private sector,” he added.

Mr Annan announced that 40,000 metric tonnes of improved seeds have been made available to farmers across the continent, while plans were underway to secure markets for 4,000 banana farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

He said African countries needed 32 million dollars annually to achieve their economic potentials and tasked political leaders to consider agriculture as a priority to get themselves out of famine and hunger.

Mr Annan challenged various political leaders to use the forum as the springboard to accelerate agricultural production in their countries.

“This is the time to scale up our progress to achieve African Green Revolution and prepare the continent on the path of prosperity and self-sufficiency,” he said.

Mr Annan said: “Let us leave this forum with determination to transform smallholder farms into productive, profitable businesses and to help ensure Africa’s food is nutritious, secure and prosperous. Let’s get on with it.”

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, said “through our collective efforts on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme we are supporting the transformation of African agriculture in order to reduce poverty and halt the marginalisation of Africa in international markets.

“The success of 21st Century Africa would be defined by such efforts that are drawn up around agriculture and infrastructure – in order to move crops and agricultural products from the land to existing and new markets”.

Dr Mayaki said cooperation must stretch from the highest levels of government and business to the farmers who till our fields.

He said “The African Green Revolution Forum should work to provide the space for us all to come up with concrete actions on how to fast-track this transformation”.

Source: GNA

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