Twelve years ago, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and The Rockefeller Foundation, came together with a number of notable Africa leaders including the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to set up the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA). AGRA was established to work with various partners to bring about a uniquely African Green Revolution to unleash the continent’s agricultural potential. 2017 saw it make a record number of new investments and partnership agreements; collaborations that aim to reach some 30 million smallholder households across the continent.
Key among the 2017 successes has been the adoption of the African Agricultural Transformation Scorecard (AATS) in the first biennial review to track Africa’s progress against the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) goals of wealth creation, food security and nutrition.
Collaboration and partnership were at the centre of the year’s milestone moments. Most notable of the many forged, is the Partnership for an Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA). The Bll and Mellinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) committed to jointly providing up to US$280 million towards agricultural transformation in at least 11 countries in Africa, which will in turn increase incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder households.
The second Agricultural Policy Learning Forum was also convened to further support CAADP goals; a collaboration between AGRA, USAID, BMGF and AUC/NEPAD, it developed common tools and approaches as part of the AUC/NEPAD partnership to deliver CAADP.
Other successful collaborations abound: from the drought-tolerant hybrid maize seed developed by CIMMYT and IITA, now rolled out to all 11 AGRA countries; to the Programme Outreach of Financial Innovation and Technologies (PROFIT), a risk sharing facility for Kenya in which AGRA, through the national treasury, has extended US$ 4 million to some 33,000 smallholders, 300 SMEs and other institutions.
Partnerships at a local level are just as important, and AGRA continues brokering relations and bringing smallholders together to grow businesses and SMEs, so they can attract the viable funding from private and public bodies vital to large scale transformation in the sector. To this end, AGRA continues to partner with investors, giving smallholders access to technology, funding and markets. The success of the Farm to Market Alliance (FTMA) in Tanzania provides a template that is being rolled out to Kenya and a few West African countries. Yet another AGRA-led consortium of 23,000 potato farmers in Kenya has resulted in a full-chain approach and the re-opening of two cold-storage facilities.
An extraordinary Uber for tractor service has benefitted from AGRA’s support and funding, allowing small-scale farmers access to vital mechanisation when they need it, and only when they need it. The scheme has been so successful it is now being scaled up by governments.
AGRA has been just as active in the policy arena: supporting the reduction of multiple registrations and fees for imported fertilizers in Tanzania by backing the Tanzanian Fertilizer Regulatory Authority; reducing cereal export restrictions in Ethiopia with a contract-farming legal framework and the formalization of a fertilizer and seed bill to allow private sector participation in Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
All this continues to impact an agricultural revolution that is distinct and links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains, jobs and economic opportunities for large segments of the population. Because, in the words of AGRA Chairman Strive Masiyiwa, if agriculture is to attract the next generation it must be “profitable, competitive and dynamic. Smallholder agriculture, rather than being synonymous with poverty, is in fact vital to the future of the economy.” Agriculture is still the best bet for African economic growth and poverty reduction.
Read the full report here.