Great strides have been made in the just concluded AGRF 2016 held in Nairobi, Kenya with a number of organisations and foundations pledging to chip in and make agriculture in Africa a more productive venture. A total amount surpassing US $30 billion has been pledged as noted below;
- US $24 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB) over the next ten years, a 400 percent increase over previous commitments, to help drive agricultural transformation in Africa. Remarks from AfDB President Akin Adesina noted that a “key pillar” of the AfDB work will be support for the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation or TAAT program, which is scaling up various agriculture technologies for millions of farmers. Adesina said AfDB support will also accelerate access to commercial financing, buttressed by proven approaches to reducing risks of commercial lending to smallholder farmers and other agriculture businesses. “Now is the time to come to the aid of our long-suffering farmers and give them the modern agriculture technologies they need to ensure a good return for their labor and hard work,” Adesina said.
- Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to contribute at least US $5 billion to African development over the next five years. It is expected that will include at least US $1 billion for agriculture, based on expenditures in recent years. The agriculture investments will continue the Gates Foundation’s work to expand crop and livestock research, strengthen data for decision-making, and improve systems to deliver better tools, information and innovations to farmers. In addition, both the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation today promised to renew their support for AGRA as it embarks on an ambitious series of partnerships to support agriculture-led economic transformation across entire countries. The Gates Foundation also promised to match “dollar for dollar” other development partner support for AGRA programs. Speaking to the conference via a pre-recorded video, Bill Gates praised AGRA, which sponsors and organizes the AGRF, for work over the last ten years that has reached some 15 million farmers.Reflecting on AGRA’s ten year anniversary, Gates said, “We’re excited about what AGRA has achieved. We are committed to them and feel like it is a huge part of this whole vision.”
- US $180 million in additional commitments from The Rockefeller Foundation. The contribution includes US $50 million beyond the US $105 million already invested in AGRA and its partners over the last ten years. In addition, the Foundation is providing US $130 million for its Yieldwise initiative, work directed by AGRA and other partners that is deploying better storage, handling and processing capabilities to reduce the significant post-harvest losses on African farms due spoilage or pests.“Food loss and waste across the value chain threatens farmers’ livelihoods and costs the global economy more than the combined 2015 profits of the Fortune 500,” said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 to 50 percent of certain staple crops are lost post-harvest.”
- US $350 million from Kenya Commercial Bank Group (KCB) to finance agriculture business opportunities that could reach some two million smallholder farmers, which is 5 percent of the bank’s overall lending portfolio. US $200 million will go toward improving market infrastructure and mobilizing farmers and US $150 million through the KCB Foundation to support livestock farmers. KCB will also work with the MasterCard Foundation, contributing US $30 million each year to helping smallholder farmers access credit and market information via mobile devices. Moreover, Mr. Joshua Oigara, CEO of KCB—East Africa’s largest commercial bank—challenged his colleagues at other leading financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to match KCB’s commitment. That could infuse several billion dollars into Africa’s agriculture sector, where a dearth of financing has been a major impediment to boosting production and income for smallholder farmers, local seed companies and other agriculture businesses.
- A commitment by the World Food Programme (WFP) to purchasing at least US $120 million of its agricultural products each year from smallholder farmers through a partnership called the Patient Procurement Platform. That US $120 million represents 10 percent of WFP’s annual procurement budget. Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director, also announced that the Patient Procurement Platform would expand into Kenya and three other countries in 2017.
- US $150 million over the next five years from OCP Africa to support local fertilizer distribution, storage and blending in Africa. Mr. Tark Choho, Managing Director of the OCP Group and Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, said OCP also will focus on building fertilizer plants in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and is in discussions with five countries. This investment is expected to significantly increase access to fertilizers for Africa’s smallholder farmers and is projected to cost US $1 billion.
- Over $US 3 billion to African agriculture over the next six years from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) –in keeping with its current policy of spending at least 50 percent of its annual US $1.1 billion in Africa. IFAD’s investments focus on intensive efforts to generate jobs in farming and food production, particularly for African youth and African women. “Those of us who have been fortunate to achieve so much over a rich and full lifetime must now do everything in our power to provide our young people with opportunity and hope,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of IFAD and first winner of the prestigious new Africa Food Prize.
- Yara International ASA (Yara), which has been involved in African agriculture for more than 50 years, has pledged to continue with significant investments that can link smallholder farmers to lucrative value chains. “We believe there is a tremendous opportunity for the African agriculture sector to grow from being a net importer to an exporter of food,” said Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether.
- USAID launched a global report entitled “A Food-Secure 2030”. The US government has invested more than $6.6 billion in global food security and nutrition efforts through its Feed the Future initiative, and “the Global Food Security Act signals the US government’s enduring commitment to global food security and nutrition and is the largest development authorization the US Congress has made in a decade.”
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, Willy Bett urged all players involved to keep their commitments in line with the pledges made. “We have to be held accountable for the commitments we’ve made,” said the CS.
Commissioner, Rural Economy and Agriculture, Africa Union Tumusiime Rhoda noted that if hunger is to be terminated by 2015, mechanisms have to be adopted that illuminate the path that leads to that destination. “Actions and results will definitely yield the agricultural transformation we want on the continent,” she said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that 70 per cent of African population engages in agriculture with the predominant composition being young people. The sector (agriculture) must be taken therefore be taken seriously. He and President Kagame of Rwanda also spoke in the importance of partnerships with the private sector in line with to harnessing the potential that lies therein and boosting productivity of the industry.
Ivory Coast picks the baton from Kenya, having been picked to host AGRF 2017.