AfDB Supports African Green Revolution Forum
The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) ended on September 4, 2010, with concrete resolutions to transform African agriculture and tackle food security issues. Closing the forum in Accra, Ghana, AGRF Chair, Kofi Annan, praised efforts by public and private institutions, development organisations, donors and farmers to accelerate the African green revolution.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), a strategic partner and sponsor of the Pan-African event, made several key contributions to the forum. Speaking on behalf of Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, the AfDB Vice-President, Kamal Elkheshen, expressed the Bank’s full support to efforts at addressing critical issues articulated at the forum in order to move Africa’s agriculture agenda forward. He highlighted the Bank’s strategic shift with a view to supporting agriculture by financing infrastructure for agricultural development.
Mr. Elkheshen said that the Bank had selected the model of investing in agricultural infrastructure for reasons which include adequate capacity and know-how, comparative advantage, and empirical evidence that agricultural infrastructure leads to higher returns on investment. He further pointed out that rural infrastructure such as roads, facilitated access for both inputs and outputs. He also stressed the importance of irrigation infrastructure for agricultural productivity, especially when used at the right moment. “When it is adequately available and timely supplied along with other factors of production, thereby reducing the adverse impacts of climate change and increasing food crop yields on a sustainable basis”.
On the third and final day of the event, the AGRF agreed to pool efforts and resources to scale up breadbasket project plans and investment blueprints for agricultural growth corridors. The Ghanaian Agriculture Minister, Kwasi Ahwoi, urged new partners to join the Ghana breadbasket initiative.
Mr. Elkheshen who also participated in the plenary session on: “Launching the Bread-Basket Initiative: Programs for Ghana and Mali”, said that through synergies with other partners, the program’s strong focus on production could be complemented with necessary infrastructural activities. One of the main challenges that he saw for the Bread Basket Initiative was the slow involvement of the private sector in agriculture.
As a potential means to enhance private sector engagement, Mr. ElKheshen pointed to the introduction of crop insurance schemes that could help overcome the issue of high risk associated with agricultural operations. He said that the issue of land tenure represented another significant challenge since the organization of landownership made it difficult for farmers to use their land as collateral in the process of obtaining credit. He also stressed the serious aspect of land and women in agriculture, explaining that even though women did the main part of the work, it was very difficult for them to own land.
In a communiqué issued to delegates, the moderators of breakout panel sessions published a series of concrete outcomes of the AGRF. These include:
- Empowering women throughout the agricultural chain by accelerating access to improved technology, finance and markets
- Providing support for the Impact Investment Fund for African Agriculture to scale up access to finance by farmers and agri-businesses
- Investing in science, technology and research for food nutrition security
- Accelerating access to improved seed by promoting the entire value chain, including support for plant breeding, seed companies and seed distribution systems
- Improving fertilizer supply systems and more efficient fertilizer value chains
- Ensuring more inclusive business models linking agri-business, commercial farms and smallholder farmers
- Ensuring better water management
- Ensuring mixed crop livestock systems
At the end of the forum, Mr Annan thanked government leaders, including Mizengo Pinda; Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former President; and John Dramani Mahama, Ghana’s Vice President, who had taken part in the AGRF.
“These gracious, impassioned leaders threw their political weight behind this shining moment of transformation for Africa,” said Mr Annan, as he urged governments and parliamentarians to help eradicate poverty and realise the dream of a green revolution in Africa.