The Sixth Africa Green Revolution Forum ended on Friday with investors being urged to deploy Sh40 trillion to unlock Africa’s food production potential. And as a quick win, donors pledged more than $60 billion (Sh6 trillion) — leaving a $340 billion deficit — to help transit Africa from a net importer of agricultural products to exporters.
The convention which addressed challenges the agriculture sector faces also provided a broad range of solutions that can only bear fruit with cross-cutting intervention by all stakeholders — governments, private sector and civil society.
Participants concluded the meeting with a commitment to target specific milestones over the next 16 months as part of the “Seize the Moment” campaign, which was the AGRF 2016 theme.
The commitments are envisaged to go a long way towards improving agricultural output and productivity, which is part of the estimates ranging between “$315 and $400 billion over the next 10 years” investments in food production, processing, marketing and transport the continent requires.
They, however, noted that for Africa to boost the agriculture sector productivity, it needs to address, weak transport networks, access to energy, irrigation systems and storage, fertiliser availability and poor soil husbandry.
Though the forum did not end with empty table, AGRA president Agnes Kalibata sounded a warning: “The food-import deficit currently in Africa is $35 billion annually and could grow to $110 billion in the next decade.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, who called for urgent action to tap the sector’s potential for the continent’s good. Speaking at the AGRF closing ceremony, Bett urged delegates to drive the agenda forward.
“All of us must do our part for agriculture to take effect to our economy,” he said. “We have to be held accountable for the commitments we’ve made.”
On the last day of the forum, delegates pledged to focus on smallholder farmers in the next 16 months to drive up growth in agriculture and achieve significant productivity and profits in at least 20 countries with a $200 billion (Sh20 trillion) kitty.
The action plan also commits countries to develop a public “scorecard” to track progress and hold them accountable. Specific commitments include unlocking 10 per cent of public expenditures for agriculture, as many countries agreed to do when they first joined the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) partnership platform.
They must also leverage on innovative approaches to providing finance for smallholder farmers and agri-businesses and working through initiatives such as Grow Africa to bring in more private investment.
Private sector partners representatives including AGCO, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, Equity Bank, OCP Africa, UPL and Yara International ASA (Yara) committed to significant new investments to boost production for smallholder farmers and link them to lucrative agriculture value chains.
They also pledged to increase financing to smallholder farmers and agri-businesses, use of seeds proper seeds, quality fertilisers and other inputs, increase manufacturing capacity among smallholder farmers, and develop efficient and sustainable markets for smallholder producers of crops such as potatoes and pulses in East Africa. The next AGRF will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.