With the AGRF being held in a French-speaking African country, the 2017 official opening was attended by the heads of state of Côte d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, and Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as well as former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, John Kuffour of Ghana and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.
More than a thousand AGRF participants from a wide range of institutions, NGOs and foundations have used the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas during 4th-8th September 2017.
A new paradigm for African agriculture
The opening ceremony allowed stakeholders to stress the importance for Africa to move towards agricultural development and a new paradigm that will guarantee the continent's prosperity. A paradigm that involves diversified and mechanised agriculture, the use of improved seeds and cutting-edge technologies, and a true entrepreneurial mentality among start-ups along the value chains.
"Producer incomes have increased from 3,000 billion CFA francs [€4.57 billion] in 2011 to 6,000 billion CFA francs [€9.15 billion] in 2016. This is the equivalent of Côte d'Ivoire's budget in 2017," said Ouattara. The Ivorian head of state invited African leaders to show greater political will in favour of agriculture, encouraging them to significantly transform the sector.
The leaders opening AGRF 2017 stressed that the successful transformation and modernisation of agriculture will be a major step towards food security, resilience and job creation. By focusing on the development of value chains, the entire African economy will be pulled ahead.
A joint effort in the face of climate change
In order achieve such transformation, and especially to tackle the harmful effects of climate change, the Ivorian president called for assistance from developed countries and donors. This appeal was heeded as international institutions at the opening ceremony reaffirmed their willingness to continue their support for this essential and long-awaited transformation of agriculture in Africa.
CTA, a key partner of AGRF 2017, takes this commitment particularly seriously and since the first day of the Forum, at various pre-events, the centre has been promoting innovations in sustainable agriculture to help increase food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth. This is an area in which young people have an important role to play, given their capacity to use new technologies, especially ICTs.
On the sidelines of the AGRF opening ceremony, the 2017 African Food Prize was awarded to Professor Ruth Oniang'o from Kenya for her efforts to promote the work of African researchers on nutrition, and to Maïmouna Sidibé of Mali, founder of Faso Kaba, a company producing and distributing certified and improved seeds. These winners represent the achievements of research and entrepreneurship, paying tribute to the dynamism, especially among women, of an emerging innovative agriculture, which is gaining momentum in Africa.