The AGRF once again proved to be a multi-stakeholder forum bringing together a diverse range of influential change agents from across the African agriculture landscape and around the world.
They included African Heads of State, global business leaders, ministers, farmers and farmer organizations, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, civil society groups and scientists, as well as international development and technical partners.
The theme of this year’s AGRF was “Seize the Moment: Securing Africa’s Rise through Agricultural Transformation.” The forum built on a campaign to “Seize the Moment” that was launched at the 12th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform meeting in Accra, Ghana in April 2016.
The campaign is backed by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), along with key civil-society groups, farmer groups, companies and development partners.
“Seize the Moment” recognizes the significant progress African countries have made over the last decade to build a foundation for a renaissance in the agriculture sector both on and off the farm across the entire value chain. But it also recognizes that much more needs to be done. Countries still have a long way to go to achieve food security and ensure equal access to economic opportunity for all Africans. Africa today is facing strong headwinds.
The challenges include rapid urbanization, climate change that is generating more stressful growing conditions, significant unemployment in which one in three Africans from 15 to 35 years old are jobless and chronic malnutrition that has left 58 million children stunted.
AGRF partners understand that addressing these issues requires firm political, policy and financial commitments, guided by a clear agenda and strong mechanisms for measuring progress.
The ambition of the forum is to accelerate the progress on agriculture’s contribution to economic growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for all, in line with delivering on the Malabo Goals and targets.
Over the course of the five-day forum, delegates put forward and began to coalesce around a set of important commitments that the AGRF platform can pursue in the medium-term to realize the ambitious goals laid out in the 2014 Malabo Declaration and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the next 16 months before the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit and CAADP biennial review in January 2018, the AGRF partners pledged to: pursue a political, policy and business agenda intended to accelerate smallholder-inclusive agricultural transformation in at least 20 countries; unlock at least US $200 billion in investment in African agriculture; and develop a concise scorecard for accountability and action under the leadership of African Union institutions.
They are captured in the following nine action points, Refresh investment plans to unlock 10% of public expenditure on agriculture that can be clearly leveraged to attract significant additional resources from private sector and other partners, Actualize commitments made by the private sector through platforms such as Grow Africa or others to bring at least US $20 billion of private investment into African agriculture and galvanize broader investment.
Develop and launch innovative financing mechanisms, including Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) agricultural financing mechanisms such as incentive- based risk-sharing facilities for agricultural lending, social impact bonds, catalytic financing facilities and agriculture- relevant e-wallet and digital financing mechanisms.
Support at least 20 countries to develop their agriculture transformation agenda, including identification and significant scaling up of five priority value chains per country with strong links to smallholder agriculture, strong focus on youth employment and a commitment to building resilience to shocks to the agriculture system.
Identify and unlock five main policy and regulatory bottlenecks per country that are inhibiting agriculture sector growth, Establish and support agriculture transformation delivery mechanisms appropriately tailored to the national context and needs in at least 10 countries.
Support countries to strengthen capacities, including the cultivation of a new wave of public and private sector agriculture transformation leaders,Produce and use an agriculture transformation scorecard at the heart of the CAADP biennial review process, including a one-page snapshot for Heads of State.
Hold at least two Ministerial peer review roundtables prior to the 2018 African Union Heads of State and Government Summit to challenge and validate emerging biennial review reports and actions.
At AGRF 2016, many of Africa’s steadfast champions of agriculture stepped forward with significant and concrete commitments that have already begun to put this nine-point plan into action. They pledged more than US $30 billion in investments to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next 10 years.
The collective pledges are believed to represent the largest package of financial commitments to the African agricultural sector to date, and they are backed by the broadest coalition ever assembled in support of the entire agribusiness value chain.
African governments represented by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials from more than 20 countries across the continent laid out a bold vision for how agriculture transformation will drive economic transformation.
H.E. President Kenyatta put forth concrete proposals that included a call for governments to refresh multi-year plans for agriculture development; a push to mobilize a combination of US $400 billion in public and private sector resources; and an effort to put in place the continental agricultural transformation scorecard that would measure and track all commitments to ensure they trigger action.
H.E. President Kenyatta stepped forward as one of the first champions of the “Seize the a call for governments to refresh multi-year plans for agriculture development; a push to mobilize a combination of US $400 billion in public and private sector resources; and an effort to put in place the continental agricultural transformation scorecard that would measure and track all commitments to ensure they trigger action.
H.E. President Kenyatta stepped forward as one of the first champions of the “Seize the Moment” campaign, committing himself to deliver this agenda. He announced his government’s commitment to invest US $200 million so at least 150,000 young farmers and young agriculture entrepreneurs can gain access to markets, finance and insurance.
H.E. President Kagame stepped forward as the other initial champion of the “Seize the Moment” campaign. Building on his long-standing leadership in putting agricultural transformation at the center of Rwanda’s economic transformation and improvements in human well-being, President Kagame challenged the continent and other leaders around the world.
He noted that, “We should not only seize the moment but continue momentum for transformation of agriculture and economies of our continent. Agriculture is not just one sector of the economy amongst others – it’s the backbone of the economy. We need to strengthen the involvement of other parts of the value chain, especially the private sector. Let’s have more action and less talk.”
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a global report entitled “A Food-Secure 2030” and set the tone for supporting Africa’s agricultural transformation agenda with its political and financial commitment through the Global Food Security Act, which is the largest development authorization the US Congress has made in a decade.
Other development partners including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the MasterCard Foundation, and the World Food Programme (WFP) recommitted and intensified their long-standing support for African agriculture.
A representative set of private sector partners including AGCO Corporation, Kenya Commercial Bank Group (KCB), 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.
Their work is expected to deliver, among other things, a major increase in financing for smallholder farmers and SME agribusinesses; an increase in use of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs; an increase in manufacturing capacity oriented around smallholder farmers; and the development of efficient and sustainable value chains, such as potatoes and pulses in East Africa.
Regional institutions led by the African Union Commission and NEPAD Agency committed to driving the CAADP biennial review process and implementing the scorecard on agricultural transformation for tracking progress in the “Seize the Moment” campaign and beyond.
The actions taken over the next 16 months until the January 2018 AU Summit will be critical to delivering on this agenda and contributing to achievement of the goals laid out in the Malabo Declaration.
The AGRF partners intend to build on the momentum established at AGRF 2016 by developing a work plan that will tie together the most important moments and forums of the African agriculture community to secure further commitments to the “Seize the Moment” campaign and ensure progress.