By the time the seventh African Green Revolution Forum was drawing to a close on Friday afternoon, an air of optimism had rented the Sofitel Hotel, where the conference was held for five straight days.
The forum was attended by more than thousand people, most of whom fervently desire to see the continent rise economically through success in agriculture, among them presidents, former presidents, private company bosses and other stakeholders.
Even more colorful than the variety of attire – traditional and modern – that graced the event across the five days was the spread of topics covered and solutions offered to the continent’s production problems.
Digital technologies, post-harvest loss management, value chain investment and the role of women in African agriculture were some of the core topics that gave structure to the successful forum.
“I am extremely grateful with how the 2017 AGRF turned out and I would like thank the Cote d’Ivoire government, in particular, for ensuring that we had a great event,” said Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) President Dr. Agnes Kalibata in her closing speech.
The importance of investing in modern farming technologies and giving the youth and women more resources to venture into productive agriculture were emphasised in different sessions, as was the need for governments to create enabling environments for the private business community to flourish.
Similarly, the importance of Africa in the future of the world’s food security plans was reiterated across the five days. For, as the global population approaches 9 billion by 2050, farmers around the world will need to increase their productivity by 70 per cent to cater for the rising demand.
Africa, which bears more than half of the world’s unused arable land, has already made it onto the global radar as the biggest potential bridge to that increased food production.
“Africans need to become producers and creators, and not just consumers, in the fast-moving enterprising business of food. I am confident that we will soon see Africa’s first tranche of billionaires coming from the farming and food sectors,” said Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President of African Development Bank (AfDB).
During the 2017 AGRF, four prominent organizations supporting African agriculture unveiled a strategic partnership designed to improve food security for 30 million smallholder farm households in at least 11 African countries by 2021, while increasing the incomes for farmers.
Titled the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), the initiative will see the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contribute $280 million towards inclusive agricultural transformation in the continent.
“This is a unique and a novel partnership to bring together bilateral development partners together, not just from a financial point of view, but also our expertise and networks, in partnership with AGRA to push forward the agricultural transformation agenda,” the Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Managing Director, Mamadou Biteye, said.
But the highlight of the forum could have presented on Wednesday evening as all participants came together to celebrate two women, Kenyan scholar Ruth Oniang’o and Malian agropreneur Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, who were jointly declared the new laureates of the African Food Prize.
Onian’go was rewarded for her profound role in fostering nutritional development of the continent through various advocacy efforts, while Coulibaly was recognized for her resilience in developing a business whose core mission is to improve the productivity of African farmers.
And the clarion call after the forum, entitled Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture, was that ‘the time for talk is over and it is now time for action.’