The second African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2012) took place last week in Arusha, Tanzania, focussing on the theme “Scaling Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Agricultural Growth and Food Security”. The first AGRF was held in Accra Ghana in 2011.
With an aim to urge prompt action to improve four areas, namely, public-private partnerships, agricultural finance, making markets work and building foundations for rapid growth in agricultural production, the 2012 conference brought together over 1,000 participants from African governments, private sector representatives, farmers, civil society organizations and relevant stakeholders to share experiences and knowledge over a three-day forum.
The forum ran plenary and breakout sessions and side events, and showcased the agricultural success stories and challenges that the continent faces. Opening remarks were heard from Kofi Annan, President Of The United Republic of Tanzania, Melinda Gates, President of AGRA Jane Karuku and IFAD President Nwanze.
The speaker’s remarks were connected by an overwhelming call for investment in African agriculture in order to comprehensively boost agricultural production and attain more robust and secure economic growth and food security both in Africa and globally. They strongly emphasized that investing in smallholder farmers, particularly women, and the need to recognise them as the driving force behind productivity is key to unlocking the continent’s agricultural potential.
As he declared the forum open, President Kikwete of Tanzania also called for stronger partnerships among governments, donor agencies and the private sector in order to stimulate growth and productivity in agriculture. He stressed that the conference should center on ways of attracting private sector investment in order to help bolster the African agricultural sector, as it would have a positive ripple effect on the overall economic climate on the continent, thereby improving livelihoods.
In her opening remark, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda said:
In the end, it boils down to what ought to be done to eradicate poverty…In order to achieve our objective, we needed to invest not only in health but also in global development generally, of which agriculture is a powerful example…
Ultimately, the forum produced an action plan to transform Africa’s agricultural sector. It was agreed that structures to link smallholder farmers with key players in the financial system should be developed. Forum participants also called for regional commodity trade regimes to be harmonised and barriers lifted across Africa as well as encouraging plans to address issues that disrupt the flow of regional markets such as infrastructure, corruption and transport.
At the end of the meeting, Ms Jane Karuku, president of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said:
The international community is beginning to realise that smallholder farmers are entrepreneurs and farming is a business…The forum inspired tremendous discussions and developed actionable plans to bring us closer to achieve food security. It is critical that we move forward with these real, practical and pragmatic actions.
And Yara International president and chief executive officer and co-chair at the forum, Mr Jorgen ole Haslestad, added:
By gathering public-private sector leaders to collaborate across borders and industries, we are optimistic that the result will be a more food secure future.
For a round up of opening remarks and media articles covering AGRF 20102, click here.