As 2021 comes to a close, we are pausing to reflect on a year that has enriched our understanding of how we can support the communities we serve to be more resilient and thrive – even under difficult circumstances.
This year began with an ongoing pandemic, requiring us to rethink our approach to our investments in Africa’s food systems. Amidst border closures and limitation of movement directives, we had to think deeply about the impact of our work on farmers, the private sector, agricultural systems, country-led development, gender inclusivity and strategic partnerships.
Our emerging results report, which covered progress in our current strategy, provided insight for our next steps by emphasizing the need to increase investment in systemic change as well as sustainability. Taking into account this information alongside the ongoing climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic, we adapted our approach to sustain our support to smallholder farmers across our areas of operation: in systems development, state capability and partnerships.
In the section below, you will see examples of the results of our work throughout 2021. These all contribute to our objectives of participating in the global goals of ending poverty and hunger, improving nutrition, and supporting climate adaptation and resilience.
Systems development – AGRA continues to build, with its partners, the systems that farmers need to prosper. Improved varieties of seed are key to Africa’s food system transformation. This area has been an area of focus for AGRA’s current strategy. During our early years and in our current strategy, we have invested in training the scientists needed to transform Africa’s seed production industry. Having provided support for over 800 African scientists to obtain post-graduate degrees in the last decade, building hundreds of indigenous seed companies, in 2021 we went a step further to launch the first Center of Excellence for Seed Systems in Africa (CESSA) to champion the development of quality seed of improved varieties on the continent. CESSA will convene seed actors to help fill gaps and build the capacities of scientists, developing varieties that respond to the needs of farmers in Sub Saharan Africa. The Center will begin operations in 2022, supporting governments, the private sector and development partners to deliver modern, effective and resilient seed systems that serve African farmers better.
We have come to the end of our five-year strategy and what a journey it has been! Next year, 2022, will be a transition period during which we will review and showcase the outcomes of our investments since 2017, as we prepare for another five-year strategy period of driving inclusive agricultural transformation plans. AGRA will target more tightly its work for impact, and build stronger partnerships and alliances to drive the development of agriculture and food systems across the continent.
During this period, we will also strengthen our institutional and technical capacities to strengthen AGRA’s position as the go-to institution supporting the development and scaling of Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (IAT) tools, technologies and models. We are anchoring our ambition on accelerating momentum towards the achievement of the Malabo targets by leveraging the partnerships that magnify our impact.
Food systems is an opportunity for transformation in food and agriculture! We will build off our collaboration in 2021 to secure new commitments to the CAADP processes, targeting hunger and poverty, boosting intra-African trade, enhancing resilience to climate variability, securing investments in agriculture and promoting mutual accountability to actions and results within our various partnerships.
During this challenging year, I have reflected often on an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. It is in this spirit of transforming agriculture and ending hunger – together! – that I wish to thank all of you for your active engagement in the journey towards our IAT goals amidst the complexities of 2021. We could not have done it without you!
On this note, we at AGRA wish you a very joyful holiday season, and as we move into 2022, our hope is that we continue to come together and continue to support each other to end hunger on the continent – for people, for planet for prosperity!
Dr. Agnes Kalibata