Kenya is hosting a groundbreaking agricultural forum in Nairobi. This week, Kenya will host the 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which will be held in Nairobi from the 5th to the 9th of September. The landmark Forum whose theme is ‘Seize the Moment: Africa Rising through Agricultural Transformation. The forum is expected to deliver major and secure new investments for African agriculture as it also advances policies that will ensure a better life for millions of Africa’s farmers and families.
About 1,500 delegates including African Heads of State and Government, high-level officials from over 40 countries, development partners, agribusiness firms, financial institutions, scientists and farmers among other stakeholders are expected at the Sixth African Green Revolution Forum.
Speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mr. Willy Bett said it was a great honor for Kenya to host the 2016 AGRF. He emphasized on the great opportunity that Kenya has had to host forums like UNCTAD and TICAD VI which has shown the collaboration of various governments to promote Africa’s development.
The Seize the moment: Africa Rising through Agricultural Transformation theme represents the continent’s need to advance political and financial commitments – such as the commitments made at the Malabo Heads of State Summit – made to increase investments and overall development for African farmers and agricultural businesses.
The President of Kenya, H. E Uhuru Kenyatta also has high hopes for this conference. He affirmed the commitment of the government to working with the stakeholders in agriculture to boost Kenya’s food security and also forge closer partnerships with the private sector. He also emphasized on the need for us to capitalize on the partnerships that this forum shall bring, especially with drought exposing long-standing vulnerabilities in food production and crashing commodity prices demanding more sustainable economic strategies that agriculture clearly can provide.
Why you need to pay close attention to this year’s AGRF summit
- The AGRF summit is another step closer to ensuring a better life for millions of African farmers and families to realize the goal of food security in Africa. The ‘Seize the Moment’ campaign hopes to bring together millions of dollars in new investments not just from African governments but also development partners and organizations.
One of the most prominent private sector attendees in prospect is American business magnate, philanthropist, Founder of Microsoft and co-director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates who is expected to endorse the campaign and continue their efforts as the Foundation to boost production and income for smallholder farmers and local agriculture businesses.
- The Summit is set to amplify the voice of the small farmers. The voice of smallholder farmers, in particular, is key but many times not heard. Smallholder farmers are simply and at most times calmed by counter voices of promise for a better tomorrow with inputs and services from governments or civil society organizations. This in turn leads farmers to either completely give up on large scale or even small-scale farming altogether or in turn, keep farming while wallowing in the poverty of empty promises that do not solve the looming problems they continually face like sustainable profits from crop exports.
- Agriculture has for long been seen as a ‘backward’ job for most youth, while in actuality agriculture is the future for Africa; all that needs to be done is for investments and partnerships to fully commit to making Africa’s agriculture a reality. Renown Business man Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet wireless and board chair of AGRA, emphasized on this saying that we need to work more aggressively to tap the potential of agriculture to become a powerful engine of economic growth across Africa. Mr. Masiyiwa who is also expected as a speaker in the conference said that there exists numerous economic opportunities for the African youth especially in solving the growing demand for food products across the continent and the whole world.
- Africa’s fight against poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity cannot be won without proactive action and supportive policies that will bring much needed and improved inputs easily, on time and at the right cost to the farmer’s door step. Instead of African governments growing Africa’s import bill, which is currently at 30-40 billion dollars a year, these investments should be injected into our own markets and particularly to our own farmers. The funds used to import rice into Africa would be used to uplift the farmers e.g. in Embu County to help them produce and export more rice to other countries.
- Agriculture should be a key investment, seeing as around 70% of Africa’s population is engaged in agriculture. This will in turn not just significantly drive inclusive growth to the country’s economy but also lessen the world’s burden of poverty, hunger and food security issues around the globe. The deals made at this conference will bring Africa a step closer to helping communities staying on course with food and nutritional security in the years to come.
- The summit is set to champion the strengthening of Africa’s emerging small and medium enterprises in the fertilizer value chain, so that they better serve smallholder farmers. SMEs in developing countries too often face difficulties obtaining financing at affordable rates. During the conference, heads of state, following the lead of President Kenyatta are expected to highlight detailed, nationwide agriculture development strategies covering multi-year sending plans, policy reforms and accountability scorecards. Kenya Commercial Bank is to outline efforts to give agriculture a higher profile in its loan portfolio as it also seeks commitment of the same nature from other financial institutions
- There is a great gap for the youth to fill in light of the AGRF summit. Over the past 10 years, AGRF has built systems and tools needed for a Green Revolution. As Africans, we have grown our sense of technology, and the evidence of technological applications and devices developed and created by our youth to solve day-to-day problems only shows how much we need this expertise in agriculture.
Kenya has of late been an epicenter for technology, innovation and development in Africa and it’s tentative for young people to take advantage of the audience expected at the Summit like the President of Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Judith Rodin, President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and other influential stakeholders set to be at the Summit.
The ‘Seize the Moment’ campaign is also expected to bring a world-wide call to action from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), energized by President Obama’s Global Food Security initiative – the largest development commitment from the administration and one that is aligned closely with the African Union’s agriculture agenda.
You can follow live-updates on Twitter by following @TheAGRF and #AGRF2016 & #SeizetheMoment. You can also follow the meetings on live stream here.