African leaders across business and politics have launched ambitious plans to usher in a golden era for agriculture on the continent with $200 billion worth of investment into food production and other agricultural activities over the next ten years.

The ambitious program hopes to  combat childhood malnutrition, catalyze globally competitive agricultural industries and , spawn millions of jobs to tackle Africa’s escalating youth unemployment menace and help strained African economies retain billions of dollars lost annually to huge food import bills.

groundharvesting_malawi_800x650_wikipediaFarmers planting groundnuts, Malawi – Source: Wikipedia

So far, more than US$30bn has been received in pledged contributions to the initiative. These comprise structured contributions from development agencies and African governments, promised private sector agricultural investments on the continent and other significant contributions from leading African corporations. The United States and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among supporters and contributors to the initiative.

The groundbreaking project was unveiled at this year’s African Green Revolution Forum, held in early September in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, under the theme: ‘Seize the Moment: Securing Africa’s Rise through Agricultural Transformation’. The African Green Revolution Forum, organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA) and its partners, is a multi-stakeholder agricultural development forum that convenes African political and business leaders, agricultural policy experts, international donors and representatives of African farmer and civil society organizations, to brainstorm on agricultural development on the continent. This year’s forum was attended by over 1500 delegates from 40 African countries, which included the Presidents of Kenya and Rwanda and former Presidents of Nigeria and Tanzania Olusegun Obasanjo and Jakaya Kiketwe.

The African Green Revolution Forum 2016 aimed to explore ways of:

Accelerating the progress on agriculture’s contribution to economic growth and transformation and improved livelihoods for all’, in line with delivering on the bold goals set out in the 2014 Malabo Declaration.

Delegates pledged to pursue, over the next 16 months prior to the next African Union Heads of State and Government Summit and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) biennial review in January 2018, ‘a political, policy and business agenda intended to accelerate small-holder inclusive agricultural transformation in at least 20 countries; unlock at least US$200bn in investment in African agriculture; and develop a concise agricultural transformation scorecard for accountability and action under the leadership of African Union institutions.’

This year’s forum also saw Nigerian Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, head of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) receive the inaugural Africa Food Prize for his ‘outstanding leadership and passionate advocacy in putting Africa’s small-holder farmers at the center of the global agricultural agenda.’

Formerly the Yara Prize, the US$100, 000 award honors those extending the frontiers of agricultural development in Africa. Dr. Nwanze pledged US$3.6bn from IFAD to support agricultural development in Africa over the next six years.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the need for the continental agricultural transformation scorecard to track and measure all commitments to ensure they trigger action.

The next forum will take place in 2017 in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

Time stamp: Michael Gyekye (15/09/16)

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