The Kofi Annan–led Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) met in Nairobi last week to discuss and develop applicable policies that will help Africa in the midst of soaring fuel and food prices in the world.
The meeting was a chance to update and inform the agricultural policies in African countries for years to come. Small scale farming is one policy that was discussed in detail during the two-day meeting.
“Our goal is to end Africa’s perpetual food crisis and to do so by mobilizing the political will and assisting countries in the development of policies that will enable Africa’s smallholder farmers to grow exponentially more food and end hunger,” said AGRA President Dr. Namanga A. Ngongi.
“The vision, passion, and strategic directions shared here will help guide the development of these essential policies,” Dr. Namanga pointed out.
Policies that address the need to improve the agricultural sector in Africa were top on the agenda. They included: support for the seed and fertiliser market, market development, suitable ways for small scale farmers to access credit and loans, finance and risk management, and strategic grain reserves and regional trade among many others.
“The centre of debate on policies for African agriculture needs to shift from Washington to Africa; and African countries, policy makers and stakeholders must lead the way,” said Dr. Akin Adesina, AGRA’s Vice President of Policy and Partnerships.
“By building African policy development capacity, and working with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, we are laying the basis for sound evidence-based policies that will rapidly transform incentives for smallholder farmers, the great majority of whom are women working less than a hectare of land,” he added.
“Capacity building to develop appropriate policies for the Green Revolution must be holistic, consider the entire value chain, and take a long-term view,” said Dr. Harris Mule, Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Kenya, during the meeting.
Promotion of subsidies that enable poor smallholder farmers especially women who are limited in various capacities, to access high quality seeds and fertilizers as well as other farm inputs was recommended.
They added that governments needed to invest in public goods such as rural roads, irrigation, electricity, agricultural research and improved extension services.
During the meeting a joint agreement to strengthen partnerships was observed as a tool to reinforce the already discussed policies.
Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Agriculture Adviser for NEPAD, said, “Partnership with all stakeholders is the way forward. NEPAD will work with AGRA more intensely in addressing policy bottlenecks… this gathering was an important first step in charting an agenda for action and greater focus on home-grown solutions to the continent’s food situation in coming years.”
In conclusion Mr. Peniel Lyimo, the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture and Food Security, Tanzania, said, “The future could be bright for African farmers if the recommendations are implemented. Policy is everything.”
AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.
AGRA’s Board is chaired by Kofi A. Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations.