Accra, Ghana, 2 September 2010 – International leaders today expressed their commitment to transforming agriculture in Africa while opening the inaugural African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in at the Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana.
The AGRF, chaired by former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is being held for the first time in Africa. With more than 800 delegates it is one of the continent’s major gatherings of both public and private players focusing solely on agricultural development.
Mr Annan opened the event alongside H.E. John Dramani Mahama, Vice President of Ghana, Jørgen Ole Haslestad, CEO of Yara International, and Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Ministers and former ministers from Nigeria, Tanzania and Malawi are also attending the AGRF.
Originally inspired by an appeal by Kofi Annan in 2004 to transform agriculture in Africa, the ministers are joined in Accra this week by CEOs, international donors, farmers and other elements of civil society.
“This is the time to scale-up progress to achieve a uniquely African Green Revolution,” said Mr Annan.
He told AGRF colleagues that Africa, with a lower density of critical infrastructure than Asia had in the 1960s, needs massive investments. Although 19 countries already have put in place plans to accelerate their annual agricultural growth by six percent a year, experts estimate that Africa will need US$32 to US$39 billion annually to achieve the full economic potential of its farm sector.
“Partnerships are crucial to success,” said Mr Annan.
“Funds must come from a combination of sources: African governments, overseas development assistance, foreign direct investment, philanthropic contributions from within and outside Africa, and Africa’s private sector,” he said.
The AGRF promotes investments and policy initiatives that will drive income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way. The AGRF will also show progress in unlocking Africa’s agricultural potential and facilitating sustainable economic growth thanks to new investment and public-private partnerships, helping to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015.
Jørgen Ole Haslestad, Chief Executive, Yara International ASA, who opened the first session with Mr Annan, said:
“Since Yara took on Mr Annan’s call an African Green Revolution we have helped lead the initiative through three conferences in Oslo, Norway, and now to the very first AGRF in Africa. I am convinced that we will achieve a lot in the next three days. We are optimistic that this forum will cement the alliance of public-private partnerships and strengthen the resolve to drive sustainable farming in Africa.”
“If there is any one goal of this week, it is that we take the issues that inspire our talk – and convert words into action – real, concrete initiatives that are a testament to the power of our discussions, decisions and recommendations.”
Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, said: “through our collective efforts on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme we are supporting the transformation of African agriculture in order to reduce poverty and halt the marginalization of Africa in international markets.
“The success of 21st century Africa will be defined by such efforts that are drawn up around agriculture and infrastructure – in order to move crops and agricultural products from the land to existing and new markets. Cooperation must stretch from the highest levels of government and business to the farmers who toil our fields.”
“The African Green Revolution Forum should work to provide the space for us all to come up with concrete actions on how to fast-track this transformation”.
From Thursday to Saturday AGRF delegates from across the agricultural value chain will discuss food security and environmental issues.
A combination of plenary sessions and smaller private meetings provide opportunities to make new, firm commitments to deliver a better food production system and a better world for Africans.
Kofi Annan said: “Let us leave this forum with determination to transform smallholder farms into productive, profitable businesses and to help ensure an Africa, which is food and nutrition secure and prosperous. Let’s get on with it.”