Urgent Action and Leadership Critical for Climate Wins

Climate change stands as a threat to the foundations of our global food systems, unrivalled in its scope and impact. Today, soaring temperatures, shifting weather patterns, and extreme weather are adversely affecting our ability to feed ourselves, demanding urgent solutions. 

For many, the urgency is heightened as agriculture is the backbone of their economies. The escalating impacts of climate change are making it increasingly challenging for citizens to produce or afford healthy meals. With each passing year, farmers are finding it difficult to predict growing seasons, with erratic rainfall threatening crop yields and livestock productivity. The effects of climate change further extend to the oceans, where acidification and marine heatwaves are negatively affecting fish stocks. 

Such trends are worrisome for the world economies, and notably for Africa, which already needs to accelerate its food production to meet the needs of its growing population projected to double to two billion by 2050 and may reach four billion in 2100.  The pressure on the continent’s food systems necessitates producers to adapt their practices and technologies, addressing these challenges head-on, and increasing their output through more efficient and sustainable approaches.

However, it is this pressure that puts Africa at the centre of global climate action, with the continent’s leaders now seeing the economic opportunities that can emerge from climate action. Investments in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and clean technologies have the potential to drive economic growth, job creation, and innovation, and Africa stands poised to make early gains due to its strategic location and vast natural resources. 

The African Common Position from the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, which was adopted within the Nairobi Declaration at the recent Africa Climate Summit, recognises such opportunities even as it compels the continent’s political leadership to take action on food systems, placing climate at the centre of its sustainable production practices. This commitment was further exemplified at the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where African leaders reiterated their commitment to regenerate, re-purpose and protect their regions against the devastating effects of climate change. In both forums, there was a commitment to addressing the soil acidity challenge through significant investments in cutting-edge technologies. This forward-thinking approach aimed to not only combat the immediate issue of soil acidity but also to proactively invest ahead of the curve in the emerging carbon opportunity. Moreover, leaders actively sought to expedite access to practical knowledge for farmers, recognizing the vital role of timely information in sustainable agriculture. 

This agenda has been elevated by the UAE to define conversations and decision-making at the 28th Climate Change Convention (COP28) later this month. The COP28 Presidential Action Agenda seeks to build on the progress and momentum of recent years with the UN Food Systems Summit, COP26 in the UK, and COP27 in Egypt, and emphasizes the need for all countries to better integrate their food systems and climate action to deliver for people and the planet. At the core of this agenda, the COP Presidency has put forward the leader-level Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, where all global leaders would voluntarily commit to incorporating food systems and agriculture into their climate planning and action by 2025. Expedited initiatives in these areas, encompassing production, consumption, processing, transport, storage, and tackling food loss and waste are all critical for accelerating global climate goals and ensuring the food security, resilience, and livelihoods of billions of people. Inclusivity also stands out as a key COP28 agenda item, with the participation of women, youth and indigenous communities required at all levels of decision-making. 

In the run-up to COP28, African countries are encouraged to lead the transformation from their unique contexts and draw inspiration from countries that have already made major strides including Norway and the UAE. Norway’s high electric vehicle adoption rates serve as a testament to the effectiveness of supportive leadership and political will in transformation. This is as the UAE demonstrates dedication to combating climate change by aligning its national goals with the Paris Agreement. Increasing its carbon reduction target to 40% by 2030, up from 31%, marks a substantial move towards sustainability.  

Innovative financing solutions are being explored to facilitate investments in priority climate actions, especially through the Green Climate Fund, aimed at securing essential resources for critical climate initiatives. However, we have fallen short on the second replenishment of the Fund, but there is still time to recover by honouring loss and damage pledges, adaptation finance pledges, and incentivizing private investments. 

Finally, it is important to restate that the success of the global climate agenda depends on leadership. The COP28 Presidency during the Pre-COP meetings in Abu Dhabi laid out its commitment to addressing the decarbonization challenge, openly addressing what many referred to as the ‘elephant in the room’.  We must be willing to have difficult conversations to move forward on important issues and work together to rise above climate change and secure a sustainable future for all.

Harnessing the momentum from COP28 and past commitments, we must now overcome the dilemma of choosing between climate action and development, enabling the simultaneous pursuit of both. We must also break the cycle of delays and dangerous procrastination. Urgency is critical as risks continue to escalate, leaving us with no time for disunity, and requiring us to prioritize collaboration over self-interest and defensiveness. The time for action is now; let us leverage the convening power of COP28 to turbocharge action and make a difference for future generations. Let’s move forward together on the “Clean Industrial Revolution” to secure the future of humanity and our planet.

Dr. Kalibata is President of AGRA, a member of the COP28 Advisory Committee, and served as Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit

Building Africa’s Agricultural Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Africa’s food systems hold global significance, impacting both worldwide food security and climate resilience. However, ensuring food resilience in Africa presents undeniable challenges.

The connection between climate resilience and food systems becomes evident as climate change poses threats to agri-food systems , resulting in crop failures, increased food prices, loss in job opportunities and heightened food and nutrition insecurity.

Within this complex scenario, a critical issue emerges—the climate finance gap, specifically addressing challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Africa.

Despite Africa contributing less than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its agricultural sector grapples with disproportionate challenges, worsened by droughts, floods, heatwaves, pests and diseases .

The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 highlighted the severity, with smallholder farmers dealing with unprecedented temperatures. Alarmingly, only 35 cents of every climate finance dollar reaches these farmers, leaving them on the frontline of climate change impact.

Urgent intervention is essential, not only to address the immediate needs of over 33 million smallholder farmers but also to establish a sustainable model ensuring resilience amidst climate uncertainties. Bridging the climate finance gap for these farmers is not just a financial imperative but a moral one, necessitating a concerted effort to empower those pivotal to our collective food security and environmental stability.

Shaping Africa’s Climate Agenda at COP28

The cornerstone of sustainable climate action lies in adapting and building resilience, encompassing the active involvement of communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure but also addressing losses and damages caused by recurrent climate events.

This requires strengthening the adaptive capacity of African farmers, fortifying food supply chains, implementing inclusive policies, and developing crucial infrastructure.

Recognizing the inefficiency in resource deployment, where Africa receives $USD30 billion in annual climate finance flow which is a mere 11 per cent of the required annual amount, underscores the urgent need for effective action. Given their vulnerability, farmers require inclusion and empowerment for resilience building to advance mitigation , adaptation, loss and damage.

Fundamentally, it becomes imperative to acknowledge Africa’s unique circumstances on the global stage within the broader context of climate negotiations. Africa’s heightened vulnerability, distinct sensitivities, and lower capacity to cope necessitate urgent and inclusive action.

This acknowledgment lays the groundwork for a more equitable and effective approach in addressing climate change. To achieve the ambitious objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the global community must actively recognize and address the distinctive challenges that Africa’s food systems encounter.

Shaping a Sustainable Future: Advocacy, Collaboration and Finance
The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 underscored the complex connection between agriculture, nutrition, infrastructure climate change, and resilience, providing guidance on how best to steer the continent towards a transformative strategy for food systems.

Addressing the climate crisis requires a restructuring of financial architecture to encourage climate investments. Giving special attention to the agriculture sector, which bears the greatest impact, it is crucial to renew commitments to green financing initiatives. Despite Africa receiving $30 billion annually, only a small fraction of its requirements, global leaders must uphold the commitment to furnish $100 billion in yearly climate finance to developing countries.

As the international community readies for COP28, it is time for collective action to mold a more robust and sustainable future, drawing global attention to these crucial issues.

Shared advocacy and collaboration emerge as fundamental principles, with a particular emphasis on ensuring active inclusion for African countries. Recognizing the challenges faced by these nations in addressing climate change, a collective effort that transcends geographical and economic boundaries is imperative.

This approach involves amplifying the voices of African countries, acknowledging their unique circumstances, and integrating their perspectives into the global climate dialogue.

Collaboration extends beyond traditional state actors to include non-state entities, civil society, and the private sector, recognizing their pivotal roles in driving sustainable solutions. Establishing platforms for knowledge exchange, facilitating technology transfer, and providing adequate financial support are vital components of inclusive collaboration.

The COP28 can serve as a catalyst for meaningful progress, ensuring that the concerns and contributions of African countries take center stage in the global climate action agenda.

The writer Amath Pathe Sene is Managing Director for the Africa Food Systems Forum


Stop losing and wasting food for a Sustainable Planet, People and Climate

Authors: Jeremiah Rogito, Tilahun Amede, and Assan Ngombe 

Food loss and waste has emerged as a global crisis that demands our immediate attention. Each year, approximately one-third of the world’s food production is lost or goes to waste, resulting in staggering economic losses estimated at $1 trillion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a dire situation with a staggering 37% rate of food loss and waste. This wastage not only deprives farmers of their deserved economic returns but also squanders precious resources such as water, seeds, fertilizers, energy, and land. Moreover, food loss and waste contribute significantly to deforestation, species extinction, and an astonishing 8-10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. 

Amid discussions about the urgent need to increase food production to feed a growing global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, we must not overlook the equally crucial task of reducing food loss and waste. Addressing this challenge could be a transformative action that not only helps us feed more people using the same agricultural land but also drastically reduces our environmental footprint.

Food insecurity remains a pressing concern in Africa, where an estimated 100 million people grappled with catastrophic food insecurity in 2020. Factors such as conflicts, climate change-induced crop failures, economic shocks, and soaring food prices have exacerbated this crisis. 

Shifting from extractive to regenerative and sustainable models of food production can help reduce the expansion of agricultural lands into fragile ecosystems, minimize water and energy waste, and create sustainable jobs for youth, women, and all. 

Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 aims to halve global food waste by 2030. The African Union Commission postharvest management strategy of August 2018 in line with the 2014 Malabo declaration targeted to reduce Post harvest losses by 50% by the year 2025 in African Union (AU) Member States. One significant challenge towards reducing food loss and waste is the lack of accurate, up-to-date data, which hampers effective solutions. The UN Food Systems Summit in 2021 through the UN Secretary General`s Envoy on Food Systems, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, called for accelerated action across the world. To comprehensively tackle food loss and waste, policy interventions and public-private partnerships tailored to local contexts are essential. With a growing global population and limited job opportunities, sustainable farming in food systems offer a promising avenue to address the complex issues of food loss and waste. 

The Food and Land Use Coalition growing better report highlighted reducing food loss and waste as one of the 10 critical transitions to a sustainable food and land use system. In Kenya, The Government, Food and Land Use Coalition and its partners (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition- GAIN, AGRA, World Resources Institute Africa, among others) are developing the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use System Action Plan 2024-2030. The plan has identified reducing food loss and waste as one of the 5 major pathways to food system transformation. 

The reducing food loss and waste plan has three major components. First, it involves the development of a comprehensive protocol to accurately report food loss and waste while pinpointing its sources. Second, it aims to reform and align existing food safety laws and regulations at both national and county levels, adapting them to address evolving challenges and addressing behaviour change in food consumption patterns. Lastly, the plan focuses on enhancing market infrastructure, incorporating facilities like cold storage and processing units, to boost the efficiency of agricultural produce marketing.

It is imperative to recognize the urgency of reducing food loss and waste for a sustainable future. Sustainable farming in our food systems is not only an environmental imperative but also an economic opportunity, a means to alleviate food insecurity, and a pathway toward a more resilient and equitable world. By working together at local, national, and global levels, we can create a future where food is cherished, resources are conserved, and hunger is eradicated. There is need for sustained effort to address food loss and waste.

Harnessing Africa’s Youth Population for Inclusive Growth

Africa stands at a critical juncture in its history, with a rapidly growing youth population that presents both challenges and opportunities. As the continent grapples with pressing issues such as food security and economic development, it is crucial to harness the potential of this demographic dividend to achieve inclusive growth. By empowering Africa’s youth and creating an enabling environment, we can transform the continent’s food systems and unlock its economic potential.

Africa’s food systems face multifaceted challenges, including limited access to modern agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of inclusive policies. However, within these challenges lie tremendous opportunities that can be achieved through investments in education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship programs tailored to the agricultural sector. By equipping young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in agribusiness, they can become agents of change and innovation. Governments in collaboration with the private sector organisations and civil society, can enhance the provision of comprehensive as well as accessible education as well as training programmes that align with the needs of the labour market. By incorporating practical skills and modern agricultural techniques into the curriculum, young people can develop an appreciation of farming sustainably, market linkages, and value chain management.

Ensuring equitable access to resources is critical for inclusive growth. Financial institutions and governments should establish mechanisms that provide affordable credit and access to land for young farmers. Many young Africans face significant challenges in accessing capital due to limited collateral and financial literacy. To address this, innovative financing models, such as microfinance and blended finance initiatives, can be employed to provide young farmers with the necessary capital to start and scale their agricultural enterprises.

Furthermore, it is essential to promote sustainable agricultural practices through policies that incentivise youth-led initiatives in conservation, organic farming, and climate-smart agriculture. By incorporating environmental considerations into policy frameworks, governments can encourage young farmers to adopt sustainable practices that protect natural resources, enhance resilience to climate change, and contribute to the overall well-being of communities.

In addition to inclusive policies, participatory governance is crucial for youth engagement. Governments should actively involve young people in decision-making processes, providing platforms for their voices to be heard. Youth advisory boards, consultative forums, and mentorship programmes can facilitate dialogue between policymakers and young agripreneurs, ensuring that policies are designed and implemented in a manner that reflects their aspirations and needs.

Harnessing Africa’s youth dividend requires collaboration between governments, civil society, private sector entities, and international organisations. These stakeholders can join forces to provide mentorship, capacity-building programmes, and investment opportunities for young agripreneurs. Public-private partnerships can promote the transfer of knowledge, technology, and expertise, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. By leveraging the strengths and resources of various actors, comprehensive support systems can be established to empower young farmers and agripreneurs.

International organisations and donor agencies also play a crucial role in supporting youth-led initiatives. By providing funding, technical assistance, and networking opportunities, they can facilitate access to resources and markets for young agripreneurs. Collaboration between African countries and international partners can also foster knowledge exchange and innovation, promoting the adoption of modern technologies and best practices across the continent.

AGRA actively contributes to harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth for inclusive growth. We invest in education and training programmes tailored to the agricultural sector, equipping young people with the necessary skills for agribusiness success. Additionally, we advocate for affordable credit and land reform policies to ensure young farmers have access to resources. By embracing digital technologies, we empower young agripreneurs to overcome barriers. AGRA’s involvement in shaping inclusive policies and fostering partnerships creates an enabling environment for youth engagement, transforming Africa’s food systems and unlocking economic potential.

One such initiative through which AGRA supports young agripreneurs is the Generation Africa programme. This AGRA led youth partnership initative seeks to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrpreneurs in the agri-food sector across the cotinent, and allows them to unlock this untapped potential. The programme also  provides a platform for young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector to showcase their innovative ideas and businesses through two competitions named the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize and the Pitch Agrihack.  Through the Generation Africa programme, youths are offered mentorship, funding opportunities, and access to networks, enabling them to further develop their ventures and contribute to sustainable agricultural development in Africa.

The programme strengthens the ecosystem that supports youth entrepreneurs in different countries by catalyzing stakeholders (government, private sector, development partners) action and strengthening youth flagship programmes through the Youth Ecosystem Development Framework (YEDF) assessments and stakeholder engagements. By connecting young agripreneurs with resources and support, AGRA, is empowering the next generation of agricultural leaders, driving economic growth, and creating a more inclusive and sustainable future for Africa.

Africa’s youth population holds immense potential to drive inclusive growth and transform the continent’s food systems. By investing in their education, facilitating access to resources, implementing inclusive policies, and fostering partnerships, Africa can empower its young population to become the driving force behind agricultural innovation and economic development. Through such efforts, Africa can secure its food future, create sustainable livelihoods, and unlock the full potential of its youth demographic dividend. It is time to embrace the power of Africa’s youth and work together towards a prosperous and inclusive future. By investing in the potential of its young people, Africa can lay the foundation for a flourishing continent that benefits all its inhabitants.

By Dickson Naftali, Head, Generation Africa, AGRA


Fight against climate change calls for significant collaboration

By Hon. Soipan Tuya and Dr. Agnes Kalibata 

In line with global trends, Kenya has seen a significant temperature increase of 0.3°C to 0.6°C per decade, impacting key sectors like agriculture and water resources. This rapid warming trend was a major focus at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) in Nairobi last month; which among others, highlighted the link between climate change, regional food systems and economic transformation. The ACS23 emphasized the consequences of inaction on food security and economic sovereignty, rallying Africa’s unified climate agenda ahead of the 28th UN climate change conference (COP28) in the UAE. 

Concurrently, the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AFS Forum 23) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, stressed the urgent need for climate-responsive solutions by African governments to address the continent’s food system challenges. Kenya’s President, Dr. William Ruto, has since come through on his promise to explore more green and environmental friendly fertilizers alongside a 10-year initiative to grow 15 billion trees by 2032, raising Kenya’s tree cover to 30%, enhancing carbon sequestration, restoring 5.1 million hectares of deforested areas, and benefiting households as 30% of these trees will be fruit, nut, and fodder species. 

President Ruto has also banned single-use plastic bags and initiated trials for biodegradable tubing bags in line with a United Nations resolution from UNEA 5.2. Meanwhile, Kenya is at the forefront of climate change efforts in Africa, with the Climate Change Act of 2016, and recent amendments to enhance its carbon market regime, driving its responses. The government is also actively implementing the third cycle of the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP III) to promote low-carbon, climate-resilient development. 

Yet even as we celebrate these great interventions, we must recognize that climate change is a complex issue that no single country can solve independently; a collaborative approach involving partnerships across national governments, the private sector and the international community is required for rapid transformation. 

We are glad to report that African leaders are focusing their development strategies on sustainable solutions at both the national and continental levels. The Africa Environment Action Plan, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative all indicate the continent’s strategic commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The actions proposed in these initiatives were restated in the Nairobi Declaration, which summed up the outcomes of the ACS23. Africa’s common position on food systems will benefit from cross-sectional collaboration to ensure resource efficiency and high-impact transformation.

The Declaration comprises 23 commitments, primarily addressing policy areas related to investment attraction, economic development (with a focus on youth empowerment), enhanced continental cooperation, increased renewable energy financing, support for small-scale farmers, and the expedited implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032). Notably, the Declaration emphasizes the need for global collaboration to secure adequate capital for both development and climate initiatives, echoing the principles of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet, which aims to ensure that no country must choose between its development goals, climate action and the basic human right to feed people.

The time is now for environmental, energy and food systems experts to resolutely come together to help the continent fight hunger, land degradation and ensure economic prosperity,

Hence, Africa is capitalizing on the momentum of ACS23 and AFS Forum 23 to prioritize its climate discussions and facilitate decision-making areas most critical to Africa on the global front. This was evident at the recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) where Africa’s key concerns, such as transitioning to a low-carbon economy and improving living standards, building resilience to climate shocks, especially for rain-fed agricultural nations, were a common theme in speeches and discussions. Coming off the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which exposed vulnerabilities, there is a strong focus on fast tracking climate action and development, as emphasized by Africa’s delegation at UNGA. 

Our countries are up against a huge task: the need to transform food systems to feed people, to rehabilitate and safeguard the environment and to ensure resilience to shocks caused by the ongoing climate change. There is no doubt that African leaders are more committed than ever before to build on the lessons of the recent crisis that our continent has faced to deliver stronger resilience for people, the environment, and our economies. Certainly, not an easy undertaking which will require stronger collaboration. 

AGRA has developed a suit of transferable assets in technology, system strengthening partnerships and models that can benefit women, youth, and small holder farmers in Kenya and across the continent. We are enthusiastic about collaborating with the Kenya government, like minded institutions and private sector to unlock potential here in Kenya and across the continent. 

With a shared vision and united mission leveraging stronger collaboration across sectors and countries, we’re confident of paving the way for growth, prosperity, and lasting change in this diverse country.

Hon. Tuya is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Kenya; Dr Kalibata is the President of AGRA

How the e-granary is helping improve the livelihoods of farmers in Kenya

Africa has an estimated 33 million smallholder farms.

Despite their small operational scale, the smallholder farmers, who grow staple crops such as maize, rice, wheat, cassava and sorghum, contribute up to 70 per cent of the continent’s food supply.

Additionally, smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world’s food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

However, these farmers face many challenges, including access to finance and quality inputs, climate change, lack of proper storage facilities, and market access.

To help them address these challenges, the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) deployed an integrated digital farmer services platform, e-granary, to improve the living standards of smallholder farmers in Kenya through increased incomes and financial inclusion.

To access the platform, farmers must register using their phone numbers, which also double as their mobile wallets.

The farmers receive payment on produce delivery to warehouses (on credit) for 100 per cent (assuming a low grade). The grain is graded, and the batch is tagged for traceability. Thereafter, the revised grade is communicated to the farmers.

Prices increase after the harvest, and credit is based on the anticipated price hike, the new grade and credit score.

E-granary sells the grain to the output trader and pays the farmers (net of loans, interest charges and warehouse fees).

Speaking on the sidelines of the AGRF Summit 2023, EAFF Board Member Mr. Philip Kiriro noted that they have worked towards ensuring that farmers are organised into cooperatives or business clusters to manage the value chains and the products they deal with.

“Our approach is slightly different because we have said, as small farmers, if you look at the markets, markets have owners, even the markets in our countries, in our capitals that are agricultural markets, they have owners, it’s very difficult for farmers to get onto that market and do business,” he said, adding, “So we said, why don’t we  establish our business line through value chains, by organising ourselves and agreeing that we need to collectively make sure that we dominate one important segment of agri-food business and that is aggregation.” 

This has been advantageous to farmers, who have also received support from the private sector.  For example, partnering with off-takers has ensured the farmers’ produce has a ready market.

Farmers have also gained support from suppliers of farm inputs, where the lobby and specific groups agree on the method used to supply fertilisers and seeds to save money, ensure quality input and see to it that the products reach the farms on time.

E-granary has also assisted farmers in accessing finance through tailor-made products and addressed risks that farmers face by having discussions with insurance companies.

“For example, Vision Fund has microfinance, and we worked with them in Kenya. It got to a point where they started reducing the interest specifically for farmers out of the money they give out because they saw the larger benefits that emanate from us aggregating farmers. They can support farmers in borrowing for other activities like value addition, apart from just borrowing for crop production,” said Mr. Kiriro.

Goodwill from the government is also crucial in any sector, and e-granary has allowed farmers to get government support for their projects.

“In the case of Kenya, we have gone to counties like Nakuru. We have been to counties in Western and Eastern Kenya to discuss how we can partner with county governments, now that agriculture is devolved to ensure that we energise agribusiness,” said Mr Kiriro.

Those county governments have been receptive to e-granary as they have already started talking about aggregation centres.

“That means they have taken our vision where you aggregate produce and seek markets and manage, you know, even post-harvest losses that we have been talking about for years. Once you aggregate, even as farmers, you can see the size of the aggregation or the bulk and you say, ‘I think with this one we can start value addition, we can seek a private sector partner to  process this produce,’” he said.

Aggregating produce has significant benefits in agribusiness. For instance, when maize farmers aggregate their produce, they can collectively negotiate for better business and the buyers do not have to go around looking for the maize. This translates to a lot of savings in terms of overheads.

A lot went into making the e-granary initiative a success, including support from development partners like AGRA. “If you look at the engagement we have had, the support mainly comes from development partners. Like the e-granary process of Kenya was initially supported by AGRA, while in Rwanda and Uganda, we have been supported by the World Bank,” Mr. Kiriro said.

With support from AGRA’s Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (FISFAP) programme, the e-granary worked with farmers in Meru cooperatives, Nakuru, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, and Narok.

“Out of that, we generated a platform that has membership, where farmers say they are part of the e-granary platform, and with that platform, now we can reach them through information extension, consulting, digital, innovation, issues on agronomical challenges, issues around markets,” he said.

Farmers’ forums need to be well organised to ensure their success. The farmers also need proper training and guidance from a secretariat that understands them. To thrive in agribusiness, they also have to successfully go through the aggregating process, for access to market, and partner with off-takers. With this, smallholder farmers will drive food systems transformation across the world.

From Dialogues to Clear Action Plans: Kenya’s Path to Sustainable Food Systems – The 2024-2030 Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan

Kenya, like many nations across the globe, faces a critical challenge: transforming its food systems to secure a brighter future for its people, nature, and the climate. The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) is at the forefront of this transformation, advocating for science-based solutions and fostering a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Kenya’s food systems currently are unsustainable, contributing to national carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, and widespread hunger and malnutrition, particularly among women. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of these systems and underscored the urgency of change. Inclusivity and equity must be at the heart of any food systems transformation.

Devolution: A Catalyst for Localized Solutions in a Multistakeholder Approach 

One of Kenya’s strengths in addressing these issues lies in its devolved governance structure. Devolution empowers local authorities to tailor solutions to the unique challenges faced by various regions. Recognizing this potential, we must integrate a context-specific approach into our efforts, embracing inclusivity and innovation as vital enablers of food system transformation. In this journey, innovation is not just a tool but a prerequisite for success. To effectively address the multifaceted challenges within Kenya’s food systems, it’s essential to promote national multistakeholder transformations while collaborating at regional and global levels. This approach fosters collective action and cooperation, essential in tackling issues that transcend borders.

FOLU Kenya’s Role

In response to these challenges, FOLU Kenya is working closely with the Kenyan government, collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and allied ministries. The goal is to develop the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030. This document will provide a roadmap for players within the food and land use sectors, guiding them towards sustainability and enhanced coordination.

Central to this initiative are the workshops organized by FOLU Kenya secretariat, comprised of AGRA, GAIN, and WRI Africa. These workshops aimed to engage a wide range of stakeholders in the development of the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan. A team of experts, representing diverse institutions developed oversaw the development of the plan’s zero draft. Additionally, a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders from various sectors were organized to provide valuable input into the process. The workshops were key to build a consensus on Challenges and Recommendations. Stakeholders came together to identify and agree upon the most pressing challenges faced by Kenya’s food systems and proposed actionable recommendations.

The workshops served as a platform for Food Systems and Land Use stakeholders in Kenya, encompassing agriculture, SMEs, policy makers, water management, climate resilience, natural resource management, sustainable consumption, and healthy diets, among others. Expert consultants facilitated these sessions, ensuring that the process was robust and inclusive. The consultations involved a series of workshops with participants drawn from all the 47 counties through the various regional economic blocks in Kenya.

The journey towards transforming Kenya’s food systems and land use practices is a complex but essential one. Through dialogue, collaboration, innovation, clear action plans, monitoring and coordination mechanisms, we can pave the way for a sustainable future. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 represents a pivotal step in this journey, offering a clear roadmap towards a better, more equitable, and environmentally responsible food system. Together, we can make it a reality.

Figure 2: Eng Laban Kiplagat Director for Land and Environment in the Ministry of Agriculture, Kibibi Abdalla CEC for Agriculture and Blue Economy speaking at the Coast region consultations and the Healthy diets workstream provide their input to the plan.

Figure 3: A section of participants pose for a photo at the Mt Kenya and Aberdare region consultative workshop in Nanyuki. 

Figure 4: A section of participants pose for a photo at the North Rift Economic Block consultative workshop in Eldoret. 

Figure 5: Willy Toa-MOA and John Macharia- Country Manager Kenya addressing participants during the Nanyuki and Machakos Consultative meetings respectively.

We need to do things differently in the fight to overcome Africa’s food insecurity challenges

Dr Agnes Kalibata is urging world leaders to increase job-creating investments in Africa’s agricultural sector as the sure way to make the continent’s food systems sustainable.

She is worried Africa’s food security situation is in a challenging state currently, explaining; “two to three Africans live in the agricultural sector. In the food system. They get their livelihood in the food system, which is failing.”

“Two to three mothers are struggling to feed their children,” she added.

Speaking at a session on food systems transformation at the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit 2023 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Dr. Kalibata urged international partners to do things differently.

The session sought to mobilise and expand commitments from UN member states to prioritise food systems transformation.

“The speed we are currently using means that if we don’t do things differently, in 2050, Africa will be the hungriest and the poorest continent. I don’t know whether Africa needs that or the rest of the world needs that,” she said.

“You all are spending so much money to keep people alive. We need to move from keeping people alive to creating jobs for people. And advancing development on the African continent. So that we can be an equal player,” she added.

Dr. Kalibata called for more action to promote intra-Africa trade through the elimination of trade barriers and taking advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

She told the session AGRA has been working to help countries on the African continent develop food systems transformation plans so partners that intend to invest in agriculture, know where to begin.

She says investments in Africa’s agricultural sector that prioritises private sector involvement will eventually pay off.

“We have 20 to 25 countries that between them need $10b to transform their food systems… If we don’t do it, we will spend 2.5 times as much. We are already spending a lot on social protection in Africa. We need to start tilting the banner towards more investments so there is an end in sight,” she said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Pan-African Farmers Organisation Babafemi Oyewole told the meeting farmers are still struggling to get support from partners to help Africa achieve SDG 1 on no poverty and SDG 2 on zero hunger.

“We need to help farmers overcome poverty and food insecurity. We need to help farmers overcome the challenges of climate change,” he said.

Mr. Oyewole called for support for initiatives that educate farmers and the populace on SDGs. “A study was done in Ghana that showed farmers who were aware of SGD 2 were more food secure… We need to support farmer organisations and build their capacities to understand the SGDs,” he said.

Other speakers at the session included Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General; Michael Martin, Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland; Cindy H. McCain, World Food Program Executive Director; Mr. Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Senior Managing Director; Mariam Almheiri, United Arab Emirates Minister for Climate Change and Environment, and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner, among others.


AGRA/CGA Partner to Advance Regenerative Agriculture in Kenya ahead of the Oct-Dec 2023 Rains

Jane Njoka, Regional Sales Rep at Wondergro showcase WonderGro is a new product which has been designed to improve soil health and improve the efficiency of fertilizer use.  WonderGro helps farmers to restore the fertility of soils which have been depleted and have become acidic through over-use of inorganic fertilizers.

AGRA in partnership with the Cereal Growers Association (CGA) convened a pre-planning preparation forum with key stakeholders to reinforce regenerative agriculture practices in Makueni and Kitui counties.

Through the Strengthening Regenerative Agriculture in Kenya (STRAK) Project, funded by the IKEA Foundation, the partnership is entering its second phase following a successful initial phase in 2020/2021. 

The project’s core objective is to assist smallholder farmers in diversifying their crops, exploring new income sources, and adopting regenerative farming techniques to enhance soil health.

In attendance was County Executive Commissioner for Agriculture in Kitui County Dr. Stephen Kimwele, who stressed the importance of public private partnership. 

“It’s vital to consider agricultural produce markets and foster collaboration among Government, County Government, NGOs, and the Private Sector,” said Dr. Kimwele.

The forum, preceding the anticipated October to December rains, brought together implementing partners of STRAK and representatives from various sectors of the agricultural value chain in the lower Eastern region.

With the aim of reaching 100,000 farmers, the forum seeks to foster sustainable development in food and farming systems through innovative and regenerative models tailored to specific contexts. It also emphasized climate resilience and food security while providing comprehensive support to farmers across the entire value chain. 

Speaking at the forum, AGRA’s STRAK Project Program Officer Dr. Abednego Kiwia reaffirmed that the project seeks to encourage adoption of regenerative agriculture while increasing outputs for farmers in the region.

“The STRAK Project seeks to increase the productivity of farms, advocate for adoption of agricultural policies in county governments, and to promote resilience through home gardens, water conservation, poultry keeping and agroforestry. Through our implementing partners, the Project will see an increase in maize output in farms of the lower Eastern region in Kenya from 1.8 metric tons per hectare to 6 tons per hectare,” said Dr. Kiwia. 

Farmers are poised to gain a wealth of knowledge on Regenerative Agriculture, spanning a wide spectrum from seeds, fertilizers, and agrochemicals to effective storage methods. AGRA’s commitment lies in bridging the gap between suppliers and farmers, ensuring that agricultural products, brands, and the knowledge and skills needed to utilize them are readily accessible to farmers.  

Also present, CGA Regenerative Agriculture Project Manager, George Mabuka, said “Over 300 trained Village Based Advisors (VBAs) are now deployed, addressing the gap left by the limited number of Agricultural Officers on the ground. We focus on drought-resistant seeds, offer extension services, and training to boost food production, including Home Gardens targeting malnutrition and circular business models for sustainability,” said Mabuka.

Presentations covered a wide array of topics, including fertilizers, soil conditioners, seeds, crop protection, agro-chemicals, storage methods, and service provision.

Looking ahead, the partners agreed to support farmers with technology and machinery like augurs and rippers, that improve soil health and diverse crops that increase productivity ahead of the rains.

Malawian groundnut farmer transitions into global trader in a remarkable three years

In the dynamic world of agriculture and agribusiness, success stories are not limited to seasoned veterans. Sometimes, passionate individuals with a vision and determination can achieve remarkable feats in a short span of time. One such inspirational figure is Ellen Gunda, a groundnut off-taker based in Malawi, whose business journey has been nothing short of exceptional.

Ellen embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2020, driven by her love for agriculture and the desire to contribute to her community’s economic growth. Recognizing the potential of groundnut production in Malawi, she identified a unique opportunity to establish herself as a groundnut off-taker, bridging the gap between smallholder farmers and the wider market.

Starting with limited resources, Ellen set out to build relationships with local groundnut farmers. She offered fair prices, timely payments, and transparent transactions, winning the trust of the farming community. Through her tireless efforts and commitment to quality, Ellen soon established a reputation as a reliable off-taker.

As her business flourished, her aspirations grew beyond the borders of Malawi, recognizing the untapped potential for groundnut export to neighboring countries. Determined to explore new markets and expand her reach, Ellen began aggregating groundnut not only for local companies but also for buyers in Zambia and South Africa.

Her efforts to establish export channels required extensive networking, market research, and understanding of trade regulations. She navigated these challenges with resilience and strategic thinking, ensuring that her groundnut met international standards and complied with the requirements of her clients abroad.

Through her dedication and professionalism, Ellen successfully secured long-term contracts with companies in Zambia and South Africa. Her ability to consistently provide high-quality groundnuts, combined with her commitment to reliable supply, set her apart in the competitive market.

Ellen’s success story has had a profound impact on both the local economy and the lives of smallholder farmers. By offering fair prices and prompt payments, she has empowered farmers to invest in their operations, improve their livelihoods, and contribute to sustainable agricultural practices. Her partnership with farmers has become a catalyst for positive change in rural communities.

Furthermore, her venture into export markets has not only expanded her business but also positioned Malawi as a reliable source of quality groundnut. By showcasing the country’s agricultural potential on an international stage, she has opened doors for other small-scale farmers and agribusinesses to explore global trade opportunities.

Ellen’s journey from a budding entrepreneur to an accomplished groundnut off-taker and exporter is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and a keen understanding of market dynamics. Her success story showcases the potential within the agricultural sector and serves as an inspiration to aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs in Malawi and beyond.