Statement from our Chair

Unity, resilience and resolve

In my first full year as Chair of the Board of Directors of AGRA, I had thought that my main concern would be how we could expand opportunity to millions of Africa’s smallholder farmers. Instead, the COVID-19 virus tore across the world, claiming the lives of nearly 3 million people globally and counting. The African continent has not been spared, and here at AGRA, people also lost friends and relatives. I would like to extend heartfelt sympathies, on behalf of the Board, to all those affected by the pandemic.

A major achievement was working with governments, to ensure COVID-19 did not create a food security crisis. Throughout the year, we built out our COVID-19 response and adapted as the situation evolved, following the lead of our governments, working closely with continental bodies and our implementing partners. We invested more than USD11 million to support government co-ordination, SMEs, data and analytics, political economy analysis, and other rapid COVID-19 responses within national priorities. With our PIATA (Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa) partners, we mobilized a COVID-19 task force to coordinate our work and target mitigating measures. Despite the fact that COVID-19 impacted on our ability to travel or provide technical support directly to our grantees and partners, we adapted our working methods to keep our staff safe and support our work.

As the situation evolved in 2020, Africa’s smallholder farmers had to adapt to the new reality of lockdowns, restrictions and supply chain disruptions. As you would expect, they responded to these challenges with resilience and ingenuity. I believe this year will be remembered for the many ways in which people stood together.

Challenged by the needs and initiative of our constituency, AGRA also had to adapt, finding new ways of working and devising new approaches to the challenges of food security and agricultural transformation. I was very impressed with the togetherness and resolve everyone at AGRA demonstrated during this difficult time – with the serious intent to help Africa’s farmers feed their families, communities and the continent in these hard times.

Despite COVID-19, our tenth AGRF Summit 2020, organized together with our AGRF Partners Group, drew a record 10,400 delegates from all over the world.

Despite COVID-19, our tenth AGRF Summit 2020, organized together with our AGRF Partners Group, drew a record 10,400 delegates from all over the world. During the four-day virtual summit, heads of government, government ministers, civil society and business leaders discussed how to use Africa’s flourishing urban food markets to achieve a more resilient, better nourished and more prosperous future for all. Held in Kigali, Rwanda, the event combined virtual and in-person panel discussions, plenary sessions and workshops, and reconfirmed AGRA’s reputation as a premier convenor among African institutions. 2020 was the fourth year of our 2017-2021 strategy, which has seen us transition to an integrated delivery model to catalyze agricultural transformation, aiming to reach 9 million farmers directly and 21 million indirectly across 11 focus countries – targets we are on course to achieve and even exceed. Through this strategy, AGRA has evolved into an African institution with the capabilities to support governments and the private sector to resolve persistent systemic challenges to an inclusive agriculture transformation. AGRA is now focused on support to functioning systems that strengthen the private sector’s role in agricultural systems and enhance state capabilities to drive impact at scale. This report speaks to our emerging results over the last four years, but I want to underscore that the success of our onward journey depends upon successful collaboration in all areas of our work. Together with our partners, we believe we can deliver meaningful change to transform the lives and livelihoods of Africa’s smallholder farmers. As we begin to move towards a new strategic period, we are also taking inspiration from the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. We will continue to uphold and further develop our key principles of inclusivity, environmental sustainability, resilience, economic viability, and mutual accountability among stakeholders. And by maintaining the unity and strength we demonstrated in 2020, I believe AGRA can overcome any future challenges we may encounter – together with our partners. I would personally like to thank every member of staff for their remarkable efforts during this extraordinary year.

H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn

Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Chair of the Board of Directors of AGRA
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