The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) have announced a groundbreaking partnership that will link African government commitments to agricultural development with concrete programs in seeds, soil health, policy, and markets.
“This partnership,” according to Mr Kofi Annan, Chairman of AGRA and former Secretary-General of the United Nations “will enable African countries to close the gap between intention and action on behalf of smallholder farmers.”
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding, the two organizations will join forces to work directly with national governments and partners across the agricultural value chain in a comprehensive effort to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers growing Africa’s staple food crops. They will focus particularly on plans to develop high potential breadbasket areas of African countries.
"An African strategy that increases the productivity of smallholder farmers is crucial to reaching our goal of 6 percent annual agricultural growth," says Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, who signed the Memorandum with AGRA.
NEPAD works closely with African governments to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), a framework to accelerate economic growth and boost food security through greater investments in agriculture. Endorsed by African leaders. CAADP calls on African governments to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture, in order to achieve 6 percent annual agricultural growth.
"African leaders have unified behind the CAADP vision and have taken bold steps to put agriculture at the center of the development agenda," says Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA. "This vision has galvanized partners around the world to support agriculture. Our partnership will accelerate CAADP’s implementation at the country level."
The new partners will work together through CAADP’s national Roundtable processes, which will direct investments toward implementing policies and programs that strengthen smallholder farmers’ access better soil management techniques and improved seeds and fertilizers, increase their access to markets, and build the capacity of African institutions to advance agricultural research and to develop home-grown, evidence-based agricultural policies.
Building on Progress
“We see CAADP as a historic development in charting new agricultural pathways for Africa”, says Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Agriculture Adviser at NEPAD and Head of CAADP. “We are therefore delighted that AGRA is joining forces with NEPAD to work hand-in-hand in enhancing agricultural productivity and food security at the country-level”.
Since CAADP’s establishment in 2003, some African countries have moved to honor their CAADP commitments by providing at least 10 percent of their budgetary allocations towards agriculture. These countries include Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mali, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria.
"It is no surprise that countries that have met their CAADP commitments are also showing signs of greater food security and stronger economic growth," says Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Vice President of Policy and Partnerships at AGRA.
For example, government policies, including seed and fertilizer vouchers for poor farmers, have helped transform Malawi from a net importer to a net exporter of maize over the last four years, and fueled a national economic growth rate of seven percent. In Rwanda, food production grew by 15% in 2007 and 16% in 2008, as the country embarked on an ambitious green revolution program that has increased farmers' access to quality seed and fertilizers.
“Africa must lead its own development through home-grown policies that correspond to its priorities. Such policies will help to achieve economic growth needed to lift millions out of poverty," says Adesina. "This new partnership will build on successes and support new efforts in other breadbasket regions of Africa. Now it is time for our words to match up with our deeds.”
Since 2006, AGRA’s work in 14 African countries has already benefited hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers, who now have better access to improved seeds of staple crops, to fertilizers, to markets, to finance, and to improved soil and water management. In Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, for example, 295,000 farmers are being trained in fertilizer micro-dosing, and efficient and sustainable way to improve the soil and the yield of food staples such as sorghum. At the same time, AGRA efforts have led to the release of three high-yielding sorghum varieties in Mali, and networks of village-based agro-dealers are reaching farmers throughout the area.
To evaluate such efforts and scale up an ever-growing number of successes, AGRA and NEPAD announced that they will co-convene an African Green Revolution Forum in 2010. It will bring together all partners to assess progress and determine the investments needed to strengthen the value chain and support smallholder farmers.
“We welcome this partnership which will better coordinate and enhance development efforts in Africa,” says Gareth Thomas MP, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for International Development. “This collaboration will make an important contribution to the achievement of Africa’s Green Revolution, food security and prosperity."