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AGRF 2017: propelling the agricultural development agenda forward

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The 7th edition of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which opened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 4th September, officially came to an end on Friday 8th September 2017. The Forum closed with a feeling of satisfaction, both in terms of the agreed financial commitments and the new agriculture initiatives presented.

The AGRF 2017 was the first time the Forum has been held in French-speaking Africa. Attendance was high with some 750 delegates, including 300 specialists, who took part in 52 sessions. Above all, in these sessions significant progress was made on political, financial and strategic commitments to development through agriculture.

$44 billion worth of investment

According to Dr Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), AGRF 2017 was “one of the most extraordinary forums we have ever seen. It has led to the signing of several public-private partnership agreements. Funding intentions were expressed to a value of US$44 billion, compared to $30 billion at AGRF 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Key among these financial commitments was the announcement of the new $280 million Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, and AGRA. PIATA aims to increase incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households in at least 11 African countries by 2021.

Betting on young people

As a key partner of AGRF 2017, the CTA has demonstrated how innovations in sustainable agriculture can help enhance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth, especially when young people are involved in shaping the future of the sector,” said CTA Director Michael Hailu.

The Pitch AgriHack contest organised by the CTA, showcased both the innovation and dynamism of young people. According to the CTA’s ICT4Ag Programme Coordinator, Ken Lohento, the e-agriculture start-ups presented at the AGRF for the final of this year’s Pitch AgriHack West Africa competition are driving agricultural transformation on the continent.

Working together on realistic commitments

An inclusive agricultural transformation will address many of the continent’s biggest problems. For example, agriculture can fill the economic growth gap created by falling commodity prices; create high productivity jobs for young people as an alternative to migration to Europe… and create a globally competitive agriculture and agribusiness sector to produce the high-value processed foods consumed increasingly by Africa’s growing middle classes,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata in her closing address. If agriculture is to play its role as a “growth sector,” said Togo’s Prime Minister Komi Selom

If agriculture is to play its role as a “growth sector,” said Togo’s Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou at the official opening ceremony, “we need to work in coordination with our peers so that partnerships between the public and the private sector can play a key role in the future of agribusiness.”

It is also important for states to make good on their commitment to devote 10% of their budget to agriculture, as they had pledged in Maputo in 2003, and reaffirmed in Malabo a decade later, recalled the African Union’s (AU) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Leonel Sacko, who praised Côte d’Ivoire for its commitment to respecting these pledges.

These initiatives would help accelerate Africa’s path towards prosperity by contributing to the growth of inclusive economies and job creation through agriculture. ‘Developing agribusiness, ICTs for agriculture, youth and women’s entrepreneurship, climate-smart agriculture and knowledge management – these are the key areas of our cooperation with our partners to transform agriculture for the benefit of small producers and other stakeholders in the agri-food value chain of the ACP countries,’ said Michael Hailu.  

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