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Monday, September 12, 2016

African govts, banks, IDPs pledge $30bn on agric development

The week-long 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) ended at the weekend, with some $30 billion, about N9,467,550,000,000 trillion investment pledged by the governments, financial institutions and International Development Partners (IDPs), reports NaijaAgroNet.

These pledges, NaijaAgroNet gathered came on the wheels of the theme "Seize the moment: Securing Africa's Rise Through Agricultural Transformation" and will spur commitments to African farmers and agriculture sector on the continent for new and more broad opportunities for economic growth.

NaijaAgroNet also reports that AGRF 2016 which attracted over 1,500 delegates from 40 countries, included some African Heads of State, global business leaders, government ministers, farmers, agribusiness firms, financial institutions, civil society groups, scientists, and International Development and Technical Partners (IDTPs).

According to NaijaAgroNet, most of them pledged in excess of US $30 billion dollars in investments over the next 10 years to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses.

As said by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which acts as the secretariat of AGRF and led by its president, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the pledges are the largest single package of financial commitments ever delivered to African agriculture.

“It is backed by the broadest coalition ever assembled to support a transition from subsistence to income-earning agriculture in Africa,” she said.

The AGRF partners, Kalibata noted afforded the meeting to embrace a detailed action plan that commits to achieving specific milestones over the next 16 months as part of the “Seize the Moment” campaign that served as the theme for AGRF 2016.

NaijaAgroNet recalled that “Seize the Moment” was first launched in April at the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) Partnership Platform in Accra, Ghana. It has quickly become a rallying point for accelerating work around the African Union’s 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking at the auditorium of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenyan President, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, said the transformation of Africa will only work if Africans transform agriculture.

“This meeting has been not only important, but also very urgent, because we are coming together at a time when our continent is filled with incredible opportunity, but at the same time it also is faced with profound threats in almost equal measure,” he said.

Kenyatta championed the pledges by declaring that his government will invest US $200 million, so that at least 150,000 young farmers and young agriculture entrepreneurs could gain access to markets, finance and insurance.

The Rwandan President, Mr. Paul Kagame who accompanied Kenyatta on stage, challenge African leaders and around the world to harness the potential of agriculture to fight hunger and poverty on the continent.

Rwanda, he disclosed emerged as a strong example of what investments in agriculture can achieve, stressing that according to the World Bank, Rwanda under his leadership achieved dramatic reductions in poverty, “owing largely to increased productivity and commercialization in the agriculture sector.”

“We should not only seize the moment but continue the momentum for the transformation of agriculture and economies on our continent,” President Kagame, emphasising “Agriculture is not just one sector of the economy amongst others – it’s the backbone of the economy.”

Equally speaking at the closing ceremony, Kenyan Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Willy Bett, commended President Kagame and President Kenyatta for their commitment to the forum, and urged delegates to “do our part and drive this agenda forward.”

Remmy Nweke in Nairobi/ED, Ops
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