Former Ethiopia PM Engages Africa’s Presidents in Dialogue on Food Systems Transformation During Trans-Africa Tour

In September this year, world leaders will converge at two important forums to address issues that are important for Africa’s food systems transformation. These two events are the AGRF Summit 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya, and the UN Food Systems Summit in New York.

At both gatherings, the leaders will evaluate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2, which pertains to the eradication of hunger by 2030. 

To draw attention to the two events, one of Africa’s distinguished leaders in agriculture, the Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn has in the past one month been on an ongoing tour that has seen him travel to four countries in East and West Africa.

Starting with Kenya, H.E. Dessalegn, who is also the Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), travelled to Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. He will be in Tanzania later this week.  During this tour of Africa, the Board Chair has been joined by AGRA President H.E. Dr. Agnes Kalibata, with whom they are inspecting the impact of various AGRA-supported projects.

In the four countries visited so far, H.E. Dessalegn and his entourage had audience with presidents, prime ministers, ministers and other influential leaders, with whom they engaged on different topics spanning the future of Africa’s food systems. He also met with different players in agribusiness, including farmers, processors, traders and equipment manufacturers.

In Nairobi, Kenya, he underscored the importance of the private sector in agricultural transformation while meeting with H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The private sector plays a key role in investing to support farmers access the right yield enhancing technologies, finance, markets, post-harvest technologies, irrigation, and mechanization services,” he said.

In Nigeria, President H.E. Muhammadu Buhari supported the AGRA Board Chair’s advocacy for investments that increase access to agricultural technologies by smallholder farmers.

“Mitigating the challenges of climate change and improving access of smallholder farmers to technologies will accelerate inclusive agricultural transformation,” H.E. Buhari said.

Meanwhile, in Ghana, Agriculture Minister Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, described AGRA as a key partner for his government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) flagship, through investments in seed development and smallholder farmer support. 

“AGRA, in my four and a half years in this job, has been the closest partner that Ghana has had in agriculture,” Hon. Akoto said.

The meeting with Hon. Akoto came after H.E. Dessalegn’s engagement with Ghana’s President H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo around the creation of a favorable policy environment for the growth of the continent’s agriculture sector.

“From my personal experience in government, I know the importance of mobilizing strong government commitment to the agricultural sector – and AGRA is at the forefront of mobilizing African leaders in prioritizing agriculture in their policymaking,” Dessalegn said.

The AGRA Board Chairman ended his tour of West Africa in Burkina Faso, where he held extended talks with H.E. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and the Rgt. Hon. Prime Joseph-Marie Dabire on the country’s agricultural prospects. The conversations in Ouagadougou focused on the government’s plan to increase annual rice production to 1 million metric tons up from 244,000 tons, and to provide all school going children with at least one balanced meal per day.   

From Burkina Faso, H.E. Dessalegn heads out to Tanzania, where he will meet with H.E. President Samia Suluhu for dialogue on her government’s plans for food security and increased incomes for smallholder farmers.