African govts urged to prioritise agric to promote inclusive growth, fast-track devt

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Developing the agriculture sector is key for Africa to create more jobs and achieve prosperity. (File)

African governments have been urged to step up efforts to accelerate the continent’s path to prosperity, inclusive growth and decent jobs-creation by moving from commitments to action. 

Agnes Kalibata, the president of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), said agriculture is at the top of Africa’s development agenda as an economic driver for inclusive and sustainable development and urged concrete action to transform the sector.

“After ‘seizing the moment’ at AGRF 2016 and securing political, policy, and financial commitments of more than $30 billion, we now need to harness this surge of support for agriculture and ensure it creates decent jobs and drives economic growth across the continent,” she said in statement.

Kalibata, Rwanda’s former agriculture minister, was speaking at the launch of AGRF 2017 activities in Abidjan, where Ivory Coast was also announced the host of this year’s event.

She said governments on the continent, private sector actors, donors and development partners need to work together to improve the agriculture sector, noting that it is the “surest path to Africa’s prosperity”.

AGRF 2016 is scheduled for September 4-8 in the West African nation, which has been touted as a leading “agricultural powerhouse and a hub of expertise in improving smallholder farming”. Ivory Coast will be the first Francophone African country to host the annual forum, according to the statement from the organisers. AGRF 2017 will be held under the theme, “Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Economies and Jobs through African Agriculture”.

Ivory Coast was selected to host the event because of  “its leadership in placing agriculture at the heart of its economic transformation, and is among a few African countries that have made the biggest investments in agriculture resulting in sizeable increases in both farm productivity and overall economic performance”.

Speaking at the event, the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said the bank prioritised the agriculture sector with its $24 billion Feed Africa Strategy.

Adesina said: “AGRF 2017 will bring together stakeholders in the African agricultural landscape to share lessons on countering the challenges being experienced in the agricultural sector across the African continent. Through the Feed Africa Strategy, AfDB will increase agriculture financing to over $24 billion in the next 10 years.”

The forum, expected to attract African Heads of State and Government, ministers, farmer organisations, agribusiness operators, financial institutions, researchers, development partners, and implementing organisations, will discuss and advance policies, programmes, and scalable investments for the enhancement of agricultural transformation and food security.

About AGRF

AGRF is an alliance of partners that care about, commit to and invest in Africa’s agricultural transformation.  They include AfDB, African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership, AGRA, Food and Agriculture Organisation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, The MasterCard Foundation, NEPAD, OCP Africa Group, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, Syngenta, and Yara International.