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    Close to US$6.5 billion worth of investments in palm oil, pulses, potato and rice, mainly in West Africa, over the next eight years, were made and the new US$280 million Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) launched

    Major Deals to Accelerate Africa's Path to Prosperity through Agriculture Agreed at World's Foremost Gathering of African Agriculture Leaders 

    Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire -  Africa's economic growth prospects received a major boost this week with the signing of a record number of new investments and partnership agreements for inclusive agricultural transformation at the 2017 Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
     
    The forum, hosted by H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d'Ivoire, was attended by more than 1300 delegates and high level dignitaries, including H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; H.E. Komi Selom Klassou, Prime Minister of Togo, representative of H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, President of Togo;  Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agriculture of Ghana, representative of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana; H.E. John Kufuor, Former President of Ghana; H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria; and H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania. 

    Other dignitaries included H.E. Ms. Correa Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture; Mr. Marcel de Souza, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); eight ministers of agriculture and finance; business leaders; financial institutions; private agribusiness firms; farmers; NGOs; civil society; media; scientists; development partners; technical partners; and the next generation of African agripreneurs and leaders. 
    The week long Forum, the 7th in a series, focsed on two things; announcement of concrete investments in agricultural businesses and the establishment of new and innovative approaches and partnerships to deliver programmes for greater results.

    READ: Multi-million dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa launched

    Embodying this spirit, the forum saw the signing of numerous agreements and business deals that will be key in bringing to life major agricultural transformation commitments including the US$ 30 billion committed at the AGRF in 2016. This charge was led by the African Heads of State present at the forum who were unanimous in their call for urgent action and committed to lead by example.
     
    "Agriculture is an important sector for our economic growth. Studies show that more than half of poverty reduction is attributable to agricultural development against 10 percent for non-agricultural development. This is why we have, in Cote d'Ivoire, gradually increased investments in the sector over the last five years, which has doubled the incomes of farmers and significantly reduced poverty levels," said the host President, H.E. Alassane Ouattara.
     
    Hailed as one of the foremost African agriculture champions, President Alassane Ouattara committed to increase his government's budgetary allocation for the sector to 10 percent, of which US$200 million has already been provided to cocoa and coffee farmers.

    "We recognise the paramount importance to us as a people and as a continent to turn agriculture around, to feed ourselves qualitatively and quantitatively. Unless we do that, our people will remain susceptible to hunger and malnutrition," said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. She further stressed the value of working with the private sector and committed her government to working with business leaders to double the yields of rice farmers.
    "Looking at all the difficulties we are confronted with today and considering this is a major growing sector, we need to work with other Heads of States to develop policies that are coherent and that encourage smallholders to form cooperatives for ease of access to financing. We need to work in coordination with our peers so that partnerships between the public and the private sector can play a key role in the future of agribusinesses," said H.E. Komi Selom Klassou, the Prime Minister of Togo.

    In his keynote address, Strive Masiyiwa, Chair of the AGRF partners group, stressed the importance of uniting all stakeholders with a shared interest in agricultural development.  "This is an opportunity to mobilise continental leadership and we are honoured to have Heads of State here.  Our mission is about smallholder farmers; and it is about the women who are the main producers of food. We work in partnership with governments to realise the vison of a food secure and prosperous Africa. The AGRF partnership mobilises other players, including the private sector, to invest in the continent's robust agriculture and food sector.  We are calling for global support, not in the form of aid, but in investments to enable our young people to find meaningful employment opportunities."

     
    Speaking on behalf of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of GhanaHon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana's Minister of Agriculture, expressed his country's renewed support for the 'Planting for Food and Jobs' programme, with a pilot targeting 200,000 of the country's five million farmers and fisherman in the first year. 

    READ: New Report: Meals Replace Minerals to Restart African Economic Growth

    The forum heard that great progress had been achieved as part of the US$30 billion worth of political, financial and policy pledges made in support of Africa's agriculture at the 2016 AGRF. Key among these was the announcement of the new US$280 million Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). PIATA is an innovative and transformative partnership and financing vehicle to drive inclusive agriculture transformation across the continent to increase incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households in at least 11 African countries by 2021.
     

    The theme of the forum was Accelerating the Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture, which served as the guiding framework for a total of 52 sessions and more than 300 speakers.  Throughout the forum, there was great emphasis on the priority areas of increasing the involvement of women and youth in agriculture and agribusiness. Significant deals were also signed by the private, public and NGO sectors. They included: 

    - The European Union, which agreed a new European Consensus for Development Initiative with a value of around US$1.5 billion.  This adds to its existing blended finance facilities for Africa and the neighbouring region with an estimated budget of US$2.6 billion to leverage more than $44 billion of investment in Africa until 2020 
    - Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) reaffirmed its commitment to the One World No Hunger initiative with 1.5 billion per year invested in agriculture
    - Yara, the global fertiliser company, dedicated more than $100 million in downstream operations and $130 million to develop a mine in Ethiopia 
    - Close to US$6.5 billion worth of investments in palm oil, pulses, potato and rice, mainly in West Africa, were made to cover the next eight years.  These included a crowd funding facility to support 10,000 farmers and SMEs with loans of US$100 – US$10,000; a US$500 million infrastructure investment deal to improve access to farms and markets; and a commitment by Mahindra Agribusiness to buy all green grams produced in Africa for processing in a newly built crushing plant in Ethiopia with a capacity of 40,000 tonnes.
     

    Speaking at the closing ceremony, Hon. Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Cote d'Ivoire's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said, "President Ouattara does not make these types of commitments lightly, and you have his assurance that we will make all of the necessary efforts required to implement the recommendations of this vital forum."
     

    "This week has shown what can be achieved when countries across Africa come together and collaborate with all partners including the private sector," said Commissioner Josefa Sacko. "At the moment, as a continent we rely too heavily on external resources to meet our food needs.  The potential within Africa means that this doesn't need to be the case for future generations. By helping to provide the millions of small holder farmers, so many of whom are women, with access to the funding and expertise they need, we can help them thrive not just as subsistence farmers but as successful business people across the region," she added.
     
    Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), ended the forum with a stirring call to action that brought home to delegates how agricultural transformation not only changes farming, but remains the best bet for Africa's prosperity.  "An inclusive agricultural transformation will address many of the continent's biggest problems.  For example, agriculture can fill the economic growth gap created by falling commodity prices; create high productivity jobs for young people as an alternative to migration to Europe; improve the livelihoods of farmers to move from subsistence occupations to viable businesses; and create a globally competitive agriculture and agribusiness sector to produce the high value processed foods consumed increasingly by Africa's growing middle classes."
     
    "The more value added food products Africans can consume that are made in Africa, the fewer imports we need and the more African jobs we create.  By importing so much of our food we are effectively exporting jobs and losing value from our economies. Today, too many of our young people are needlessly dying in the Mediterranean searching for jobs. Tomorrow, let us ensure that agribusiness provides the jobs and stability that they surely deserve," concluded Dr. Kalibata.

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    AFRICA FOOD PRIZE.jpg

    Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, 6 September 2017 - Two women, working at both ends of the agriculture supply chain in Africa, have each been awarded the 2017 Africa Food Prize. Hon. Prof. Ruth Oniang'o, a professor and advocate of nutrition from Kenya, and Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly an entrepreneur and agro industrialist, from Mali were awarded for their exemplary efforts in driving Africa's agriculture transformation.

    The Africa Food Prize began as the Yara Prize, and was established in 2005 by Yara International ASA in Norway to honor achievements in African agriculture. Moving the Yara Prize to Africa in 2016 and rechristening it the Africa Food Prize gave the award a distinctive African home, African identity and African ownership.

    The Africa Food Prize honours outstanding contributions within every aspect of agriculture and food production that is clearly related to combating hunger and reducing poverty in Africa.

    Hon. Prof Ruth Oniang'o is recognized as the leading voice of nutrition in Africa and for her relentless advocacy for the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious crops for millions across the continent. She pioneered nutrition leadership in academia, research, and policy to improve food security and nutrition. Her groundbreaking work, with farmers' groups and rural communities connects agriculture and nutrition both in research and practice providing a natural link between agriculture and nutrition.   

    READ ALSO: Multi-million dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa launched

    Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, on the other hand has been feted for her mission to produce and supply improved and high-yielding seed that have led to improved incomes and nutrition for millions in Mali and other West African countries. Through sheer hard work and consistency, she has overcome multiple hurdles to build a leading seed company that is fast becoming a model for Africa's agri-businesses.  Her company, Faso Kaba, specializes in the production and sale of a wide range of improved seeds, including cereals, oil seeds, market gardening, fodder and tuber seeds that can improve agricultural yields by up to 40 per cent.

    The Prize recognizes and puts a spotlight on shining examples of agricultural projects that are transforming lives and economies. The 2017 Prize winners come from both the public and private sector representing how both groups are working together to transform agriculture into a high value industry sector. The 2017 AFP awards had over 600 nominees establishing it as the most prestigious prize for African agricultural development.

    READ ALSO: Africa’s Growth lies with Smallholder Farmers

    The Chairperson of the Prize Committee, H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, commended Hon. Prof Oniang'o and Mme Coulibaly on behalf of the Committee for their trailblazing efforts that are improving the socio-economic wellbeing of millions in Africa.

    "It gives me immense pride that this year's winners are both women. This is a clear demonstration that women in Africa are at the forefront in terms of connecting the rising food needs and the continent's vision for prosperity that is driven by agriculture and agri-business. The fact that the winners work at either end of the agriculture value chain, represent both private and public sector and are from different parts of Africa reflects the wide impact agriculture has in transforming economies and reducing poverty, way beyond the fields," he said.

    As a member of Kenya's Parliament (2003-2007), Hon. Prof Oniang'o dedicated her efforts to alleviating poverty and hunger, with special focus on science and technology, agricultural research and productivity, food security, nutrition, bio-safety legislation, use of fertilizer and other inputs, HIV/AIDS and gender issues.

     A strong believer in farming being the bridge between humankind and nature, Prof. Ruth Oniang'o spends most of her time with smallholder farmers and women in rural areas helping them to transform their household's ability to produce, purchase and consume foods in higher quality and quantities. She reckons that smallholder farmers are the most valuable part of the market and the entrepreneurial value chain.

    READ ALSO: Pan-African organizations Partner for Nature and Agriculture

    "I believe we are what we eat. I realized early on in my life, when I dreamt of being a doctor, that food is the first medicine," said Prof. Oniang'o as she received her Prize. "I am humbled to receive this Prize and believe it highlights the work we have done and more importantly, it will contribute towards shaping our continent's food future. I am a strong believer that Africa shall, one day, feed the world." said Hon. Prof Oniang'o.

    For her part, Mme. Coulibaly observed that the opportunities for Africa agribusinesses are endless. She however, decried the enormous challenges African entrepreneurs especially start-ups face as they try to set up businesses.

    "I am honored and humbled to receive this Prize. It is, in part, a validation of the hard work that I have put into building Faso Kaba with the support of my family and staff. I would like to say that it has been easy.  There are many times when I almost gave up as I struggled to raise to finance the business. I am glad I stayed true to my vision, attended much training and worked with partners that believed in my vision," “she said.  Today, we have become a model that many people that are starting businesses come to. I no longer book appointments with the banks. They call me with financing proposal. I look forward to a time when businesses will not struggle to start like I did," she added.

    The 2016 winner of Africa Food Prize is Dr Kanayo Nwanze, the former President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). Dr. Nwanze was awarded for his visionary leadership and passionate advocacy to place African smallholder farmers at the centre of the global agricultural agenda, and for his demonstrated success in advancing policies, programs and resources that have improved the lives of millions across the continent.

     

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    Cow peas- photo by MKU - Copy.jpg

    Four prominent organizations supporting African agriculture join forces in innovative strategic partnership to increase incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households in at least 11 African countries by 2021.

     Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, 6 September 2017 - The multi-million dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) was launched yesterday at the 2017 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). PIATA is an innovative and transformative partnership and financing vehicle to drive inclusive agriculture transformation across the continent.

    Together, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide up to U.S. $280 million to catalyze and sustain inclusive agricultural transformation in at least 11 countries in Africa, which will in turn increase incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households.

    The PIATA reflects a recognition that greater impact and value can be achieved through a strategic partnership that builds on what has been achieved by each partner across the continent, and pulls them together in ways that help catalyze and sustain transformation at scale.

    The PIATA is an important collaboration between donors that aligns behind the Malabo agenda agreed to by African Heads of State and Government in 2014. It signals an enduring commitment to Africa's transformation agenda. PIATA is but one of various means by which each of the partners are supporting African countries to deliver on agricultural transformation; its partners continue to provide support through avenues including direct support to continental agencies, government bodies and in-country partners. The partnership will allow partners to align and complement existing efforts, making new investments in developing input systems, value chains, and policy where they will have the most impact.

    READ ALSO: Africa’s Growth lies with Smallholder Farmers

    Speaking at the launch, Mr. Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office said, "We are pleased to be part of PIATA. We see it as an opportunity to leverage even more from the partners and their huge networks, for greater impact. We are looking forward to deploying the technologies that we have helped develop over the years, together with our shared knowledge and grant support, to work with our esteemed partners. Together we hope to catalyze Africa's pursuit for prosperity through agriculture. PIATA is critical in our ongoing push to build the resilience of farmers and systems that affect them, especially in light of increasing challenges such as climate change, among others."

    According to the 2017 Africa Agriculture Status Report, Africa needs an agricultural revolution that is distinct and that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains, jobs and economic opportunities for large segments of the population.  Agriculture is still the best bet for inclusive African economic growth and poverty reduction.

    READ ALSO: Seeds, not Diamonds, will Make Africa Great

    Such a transformation will require greater political, policy, and financing commitments from across the public and private sectors. It will also require new partnership models like PIATA, which is hailed as an outstanding example of how partners can collaborating with African countries' visions and systems to deliver on their own transformation, in line with their national economic development strategies.

    Mr. Rodger Voorhies, the Executive Director of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, "We've seen significant progress when countries recognize the critical importance of agriculture to their economic development and help catalyze agricultural transformation with targeted investments, evidence-based policies, and strong national plans. PIATA is an exciting platform that can help countries take the lead in driving agricultural transformation. Our investment reflects our desire to help countries develop high-quality plans linked to national and continental accountability frameworks." 

    Each PIATA partners boasts strong networks of local, private sector and implementers from across the continent, which, through this platform, will benefit from stronger integration of investments and alignment of approaches to boost not only development but business outcomes as well.

    Delivering on Africa's potential requires both the public and private sectors to engage in new ways and strengthen collaboration. The role of the private sector and non-state actors in agriculture development and in support of formulation of country agriculture plans is critical for sustainable growth. This was emphasized by Mr. Sean Jones, the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security, USAID. "PIATA offers a new way of doing business across the many public and private actors working to ensure food security and economic growth as called for in country-owned visions and the goals laid out in the Malabo Declaration. Agriculture is at its core a private sector enterprise and one of the best bets for job creation and inclusive growth when the right policies and investments allow the private sector to flourish. This partnership offers an innovative mechanism to unlock this investment and realize many of the targets laid out in the Global Food Security Strategy approved by our Congress."

    READ ALSO: Prioritise agriculture for development, Africa governments urged

    The PIATA launch comes at a critical time in the continent's agriculture history. Most African countries have undertaken a rigorous review of the sector, developing and adopting a new generation of sector development plans that prepare them to do business. Continentally, the African Union is coordinating the biennial review of the progress made towards the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) goals, which will be presented in the first Biennial Review Report, along with a scorecard for the Heads of State to guide them in the sector's transformation. 

     PIATA will shape how partners engage on the continent. Under PIATA, the partners have committed to delivering impact against a shared results framework and aligning PIATA country operations to national agriculture plans.  This is the first time a partnership of this scale that is based on a shared results framework has been launched on the continent, its shared results framework is a significant achievement and the cornerstone of this partnership.

    Welcoming the new partnership, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), expressed her belief that the initiative would contribute significantly to accelerating Africa's path to prosperity by growing inclusive economies and jobs through agriculture.

    "We have witnessed significant progress in our agricultural transformation over the past decade, with countries that have prioritized the sector recording notable drops in poverty levels, improved food security and inclusive economic growth. PIATA will be critical in bringing key players together to support governments in their push to fully unlock the potential of Africa's smallholder farming and agribusiness as the surest drivers of job creation and the continent's inclusive economic transformation," she said.

    AGRA is the primary implementing institution of the partnership under the institution's new strategy for the continent and plan agreed with priority countries. Founded in 2006, AGRA and its partners have spent more than a decade building the systems, tools, and knowledge required for an inclusive agricultural transformation. AGRA now sees the partnership as a way to scale up its support to country agricultural transformation and serve as a go to partner for governments.

    The ultimate hope is that the PIATA model will attract other public and private players in the agriculture landscape to join and work together to support Africa on a path to prosperity through agricultural transformation.

     The 11 priority countries for PIATA are: Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

     

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