Kikwete to join Agra board food systems tour of Africa

12Jul 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Kikwete to join Agra board food systems tour of Africa

FORMER President Jakaya Kikwete will embark on a tour of Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique to mobilise political leadership and private sector participation in promoting agribusiness as a strategy for ending food insecurity and increasing household incomes in the continent.

The former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Dessalegn, paid Kikwete, a courtesy call at the Jakaya Kikwete Foundation (JMKF) offices in Dar es Salaam on Friday evening.

In conversation with Kikwete, Dessalegn appealed for support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which he said are important for the faster growth of the agricultural industry.

“SMEs processing agricultural commodities understand consumer needs better than anyone. For agricultural transformation, and to respond to the market in a bigger way, it is important to place them at the fore-front,” said Kikwete, who is also one of the members of AGRA board, which is chaired by Dessalegn.

The meeting was also attended by Minister for Agriculture, Prof Adolf Mkenda and Minister for Industry and Trade, Prof Kitila Mkumbo.

Mkumbo shared his ministry's priorities, while recognizing AGRA's role in advocating for the removal of VAT on some post-harvest management technologies. AGRA provided an economic analysis study to inform the debate on rescinding the 18 percent tax on hermetic bags, making them more affordable to smallholder farmers.  The AGRA study found that the removal of tax would increase demand for the bags by 150 percent, while raising the total net benefit to the society by US$10.9 million per season.

It is such verification of impact that the AGRA Board Chair is looking to get during his stay in Tanzania, which will also see him engage AGRA’s staff, private sector and development partners in reviewing their roles for the pursuit of agricultural transformation.

Dessalegn arrived in Tanzania on Friday morning for a five-day tour that will also see him meet with President Samia Suluhu Hassan for dialogue on her government’s food systems priorities.

This is important as Africa prepares for the September UN Food Systems Summit, where the world will take stock of the progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the commitment to end hunger and poverty by 2030.

Dessalegn's visit to Tanzania brings to an end a six-week trip that has seen him travel to four other countries - Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. He passes over the mandate to Kikwete, who will use the opportunity to invite heads of state and government to the 11th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) summit, in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 7 – 10, 2021.

Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with our partners, we catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.

The AGRF is the premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward. The Forum is designed to energize political will and advance the policies, programs and investments required to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent.

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