Message from our President
A year of learning and growth
Welcome to our 2021 annual report, which showcases our catalytic role in inclusive agricultural transformation across Africa. We closed out our five-year 2017-21 strategy successfully, hitting or exceeding our targets.
2021 was a period of recovery following a tumultuous 2020 when, like the rest of the world, we were required to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has been compounded by the great challenge of our time. Climate change is leading to disastrous consequences for the continent’s food systems. It already threatens millions of farmers across Africa.
Against this backdrop, AGRA came through. Throughout the year, and through our work in systems development, policy and state capability, regional food trade, and partnership development, we brought the total number of farmers reached by AGRA since 2017 to over 37 million.
We deliberately sought to strengthen our work in the last-mile delivery of agricultural technologies and services, something we achieved through a network of hundreds of SMEs and tens of thousands of village shops (agrodealers), with extension support from village-based advisors (VBAs). Over 35,000 VBAs with minimal facilitation were able to support more than 11 million farmers across 11 countries in which AGRA works, linking them to inputs, extension and product off-taking services. Thirty three percent of farmers accessing downstream agricultural services were women.
We ramped up our work to support the participation and competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in agriculture through membership in our VALUE4Her program. In 2021 alone, the program grew by another 1000 woman-owned businesses. It has now become a platform of choice for women agripreneurs as they build their companies.
AGRA continues to convene partners across the continent through the AGRF, which attracted 10,000 plus participants globally in last year’s Forum hosted by the Government of Kenya. We have targeted partners for financial inclusion across the food system through a combination of private sector targeted financial instruments and government-led initiatives. In 2021 alone, 800 entrepreneurs and 204 government representatives came to the AGRF Agribusiness Dealroom, presenting investment opportunities worth USD 5.5 billion to 570 investors and system enablers. We hope that the visibility of business opportunities across Africa both in the private and public sector can lead to increased investment.
We continue to view policy reform and implementation as crucial in driving change, especially to improve the viability and sustainability of private sector. AGRA’s support to countries has driven a significant reduction in the total lead time for policy approval from 8-10 years to 3-5 years. This helped us to support governments in the approval and implementation of 42 reforms in the last five years, with a further 30 in the pipeline. The reforms include warehouse receipting, liberalized seed production, IT based subsidy management and removal of taxes on primary equipment for the sector.
In 2021, I was honored to serve as the UN SecretaryGeneral’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit. The Summit, which was the first of its kind in the UN system, mobilized millions of people and raised the consciousness of the world to the challenges of our food systems. The summit drew out and identified through the Action Tracks and the Scientific Group the solutions needed to build resilient food systems. I was really encouraged by the commitments made by governments through national pathways.
The UN system has put in place a Hub to track progress against commitments and how well they measure up to the 2030 Agenda. In Africa, this crucial summit saw the participation of 49 member states and resulted in a clear continental vision – a common framework – that spoke to the urgency of food systems transformation. AGRA has already supported three countries in developing implementable strategies and possible investments.
As we move through 2022, and launch AGRA’s 2022- 2026 strategy, we are looking back on our work in the past five years, learning from our successes and what we found challenging. We will take these lessons forward as we get better at helping build systems that serve and benefit the smallholder famers. They are at the heart of all our work!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners and stakeholders who see a place for and value the strengthening of AGRA as an African institution. We are grateful for your support to Africa’s agricultural transformation journey and now as we look to the future – to strengthen Africa’s food systems and continued support to smallholder farmers. Thank you to African governments, our local partners, and the farmers themselves that continue to put so much trust in AGRA.
Thank you for your support!
Dr Agnes Kalibata