It has been a poignant year for AGRA; just 12 years since his rallying cry for a “uniquely African green revolution” led to AGRA’s formation, we lost its founder, Kofi Anan: a blow not just to African agriculture, but to the world. Retiring Chair, Strive Masiyiwa vowed to keep his dream and vision alive and, as he prepares to depart the role he inherited from Kofi Annan, he looks back on a year of impressive results, positive impact and fruitful collaboration.

This year has seen AGRA focus on three key areas: policy and state capacity, to strengthen leadership within the agriculture sector; systems development, to ensure structures are in place to effectively deliver inputs and advice to famers; and partnerships that guarantee value while supporting government priorities. This included AGRA working with regional partners to drive efforts around the continental accountability system. The Africa Agriculture Transformation Scorecard (AATS), as part of the CAADP Biennial Review process, was used to push for evidenced-based policy and development outcomes and the Heads of State dashboard was formally presented at the 2018 Malabo Agriculture Policy and Learning Event as a tool for national level advocacy and communication.

State capability and policy engagement are the best route to getting rid of the red tape that continues to hamper progress at government level. This year AGRA supported governments to develop and launch a number of new initiatives: in Kenya, the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) to drive sector development over the next decade; in Tanzania, the Agriculture Development Programme (ASDPII) to improve food security and nutrition; and in Ghana, the flagship programme Planting for Food and Jobs to address the declining growth of the country’s agriculture sector. In addition, it carried out in-depth analyses of input subsidies in Mali, Burkina Faso and Kenya to inform future strategy and provided tailored support to Ministries of Agriculture in Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and Malawi, while in Ethiopia it supported the government in removing import duties from some agricultural machinery, irrigation equipment and animal feed ingredients.

As part of continuing systems development, AGRA focused on delivering yield-increasing technologies to farmers using consortia: consortia are coalitions of all those operating in a food value chain and deliver results by ensuring inclusive cooperation. By supporting 24 of these consortia in 2018 AGRA delivered services to 8 million farmers through 1,304 SMEs and 1,970 agro-dealers. Other groups helped farmers access better inputs, reach more markets and influence local policy discussions to inform national debate. This is yielding results; in Tanzania where local government pushed to abolish the export ban on cereals and in Burkina Faso where the private sector has been mobilised to market inputs directly to famers.

Partnerships continue to be AGRA’s key route to progress. The past year has seen alliances forged with top agribusinesses, SeedCo and Yara, mechanisation firms such as John Deere, and relationships built with IBM, Rabobank, Nestlé, Africa Improved Foods and Olam, to name just a few. During the year 93 companies and institutions were engaged and 123 partnership opportunities are being pursued, with nearly $10 million raised from the private sector in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania alone, and the Deal Room, a new initiative at 2018’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), matched $2 million in investment to potential investors. As a key founding member of the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), AGRA continues to provide coordinated support to African leaders, while leveraging investments from private institutions. This year the UK Department for International Development (DFID) joined and brings expertise in policy predictability and market systems development. More partnerships were built at AGRF 2018, hosted in Kigali and attended by 2,700 delegates from 79 countries, it was widely praised as the best forum to date by AGRF partners and other participants. All this means AGRA is now the partner of choice for companies looking to scale successful models.

Just two years into its five-year strategy, AGRA has committed $130 million and its interventions have directly reached 2.6 million farmers with a commitment to reach 9 million and another 21 million indirectly. But there is still much to be done; progress as usual is not good enough to make this Africa’s century and the focus must be on finishing the job and delivering the mission. Thanks to AGRA, the institutions and governments it works with now have a significant bank of technologies, knowledge and relationships to help achieve an agricultural transformation in Africa. The emphasis is on impact, progress and partnership, and AGRA is making the grade and a legacy fit to honour the memory of its visionary founder.

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