Feeding Africa conference resolves to accelerate agriculture transformation

24/10/2015
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Delegates attending talks on transforming African agriculture rose from three days of talks, from October 21-23, on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal, excited about new commitments to grow agri-business.

“You need high-profile events like these to get things done. It was important for the new President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to make this strategic decision at this early stage because it has drawn attention across Africa and encouraged the political and technical buy-in,” said Ikhide Imumorin, Program Leader at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture.

Imumorin said the high-level nature of the “Feeding Africa Conference”, which dedicated itself to discussions about how to re-direct resources to grow agriculture in Africa by bringing in Central Bank Governors, Ministers of Finance and Agriculture and regional development banks would bring results.

“I hope this conference will now catalyse discussions and the conversation on how the commitments owned by the Governors of Central Bank would be translated into concrete action and implemented.”

During the conference, the AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, announced the creation of a $300-million financing facility to channel more funds to African women in agri-business and provide bank guarantees.

“This is a good thing, even if it is the only thing that we are taking home from this conference, it should accelerate agriculture within the next 12 months. We hope to see new programmes being implemented and hear more about the metrics of how many acres of land are improved and women accessing finance.”

Claudius Kurtna, a youth agri-business entrepreneur from Kenya, who also attended the conference, hailed the AfDB President for emphasising the role of the youth and women in agriculture.

“It was not a youth event on agriculture, but the President of the Bank has driven it like one and we are very happy. This has marked the start of big change in Africa. It is the first time I have seen Ministers of Finance, Central Bank Governors and heads of agriculture agencies sitting patiently for days,” said Kurtna.

Kurtna, who runs Agri-Tech, a Kenyan agri-business processing venture, said his organisation managed to sign agreements for business expansion and was looking for further commitments in agri-business.

Oluwatosin Ariyo, who is currently overseeing a British-government-funded initiative to improve the status of women in agriculture in rural Nigeria, said his organisation hoped to “tap into the strong commitments” reached at the conference to bolster programmes under implementation in Nigeria.

“This conference has brought agriculture to the fore. The financial sector will begin to connect the dots that have been missing in the whole value-chain, and the fund created by the AfDB will help to reduce interest rates on agri-business loans. This will enable more women to benefit,” Ariyo said.

Ariyo works for Propcom Mai-Karfi, which aims to reach 500,000 women in agriculture and expand public investments into the rural economy to $153 million by 2017 by attracting finance to the sector.

“We are seeing potential from this conference to create new value chains in agriculture and new interventions that would increase the income of women. The Feeding Africa Conference has provided a critical in-road to our efforts to mechanise farming and unlock the potentials,” Ariyo affirmed.