‘Take it to the farmer’
Joshua Minai, the AYICC Kenya Programs and Projects Coordinator was in Accra,Ghana to represent AYICC Kenya and by extension the African youth at an AGRA forum from the 2nd-4th Sept 2010.He was almost the only young person at this gathering where he met and candidly spoke to Kofi ANNAN, the former UN Sec-Gen and current Chairman of AGRA.In his own words,the former UN Sec-Gen told him, 'Partnership or partnerships are key to Africa's success'.
Joshua spoke at one of the sessions at the forum,below is his report about the deliberations
Africa is endowed with a wide diversity of agro-ecologi
cal zones. These range from the rain-forest vegetation with bi-annual rainfall to relatively sparse, dry and arid vegetation with low uni-modal rainfall. This diversity is a tremendous asset, but it also poses a substantial challenge for Africa’s agricultural development. With the ever pressing nightmare that climate change posses, it is mandatory that agriculture would be the worst hit in any sector. Taking note that Africa is an agro-based continent, the issue of food security is bleak as population is exploding and countries overall agricultural produce is dwindling as the days go by. “This (African Green Revolution Forum) is therefore a call of action to join this fight to make sure that Africa becomes a food secure and nutritious continent. Partnership or partnerships are crucial for success” Chairman AGRA and former UN secretary general H.E Kofi Annan. Africa must wake up on its own and develop itself on matters pertaining to mitigation and adaptation to climate change” Prime Minister Republic of Tanzania. “Climate change has brought a new future for Africa. However, most Africans do not fully understand the kind of market it has for the continent” Dr. Jens Riese, Director McKinsey & Company. This has been aggravated by the fact that there is serious lack of knowledge of the new potential. “Carbon is the new oil for Africa” Lloyd Chingambo, CEO Lloyds Financial Limited.
An African response to climate Change
What needs to be done?
- Scale up weather index crop insurance and agricultural insurance for agricultural value chains
- Create awareness of climate change, it effects on African agriculture and the opportunities where they exist for mitigation
- Build capacity of African scientists, including new dedicated research institutions, to enhance understanding and develop appropriate models
- Start creating awareness with youth of links between climate change and agriculture including introduction of climate change solutions on to the education curriculum
- Governments in Africa need to break the silos (agriculture, economy and environment) and work with existing institutions to make climate compatible development to be a key part of the overall agenda
- Systematically identify and access the most effective technologies in;
· Water management
· Soil management and land use
· Renewable energy in farming and develop approaches to deploy them at scale;
- Address the critical hurdles for scaling up including finance, knowledge and capacities
- Work towards a global financing framework concrete commitment to push for climate compatible agricultural growth
Who will do these?
There needs to be a three track approach;
- Broad based joint regional and African inter government initiatives
- Specific country initiatives with support from development partners and scientists
- Catalytic public- private partnership initiatives (including civil society and youth)
When will it be done by?
- Initial activities over the next year, with three track approach deepened over next five years
Monitoring and Evaluation
- Do an annual country assessment and benchmark and integrate into doing business and governance indicators
Areas of Involvement
Ø Research and development good variety of crops
Ø Need to revise our growing practices (conservation tillage), harvesting practices etc
Ø Weather assurance
Ø Capacity needs to be updated especially of the youths
What are the way forwards
Ø Get supporting policies that encourage, create or encourage the local institutions to take a leading role in advancing their agriculture
Ø There is a dire need to mainstream gender into the overall agricultural setting since they are the most affected and constitute nearly over 80% of the small holder farmers in African agricultural settings
Ø Countries should boldly allocate a sustainable share of their national budgets and take “Political actions and political brave initiatives should be taken and walk the talk and not the norm business as usual” Kwesi Atta- Krah, Deputy Director General Bioversity International.
The breadbasket Strategy is to be commenced in all African countries borrowing leaves from the P1 countries
(Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania and Ghana). P1 countries are those with the highest potential to attain a green revolution. This is an approach to operationalize the country Comprehensive Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework. The AGRF moreover, agreed to pool efforts and resources to scale up breadbasket project plans and investment blueprints for agricultural growth corridors.
The Road Ahead
"We pledge ourselves to work with all other key partners to ensure that capacity is not a limiting factor in the green revolution," Namanga Ngongi, president (AGRA), the organization that founded the AGRF alongside YARA. "The time for action is now. For as you leave this forum, you are carrying upon your shoulders the vibrant hopes of a generation and a continent. We will not dash the dream of the African farmer," Chairman AGRA and former UN secretary general, H.E Kofi Annan. A series of concrete outcomes of the AGRF parallel sessions, including: empowerment of women throughout the agricultural chain by accelerating access to improved technology, finance and markets backing for the Impact Investment Fund for African Agriculture to scale up access to finance by farmers and agri-businesses investment for science,
technology and research for food nutrition security accelerated access to improved seed by promoting the entire value chain, including support for plant breeding, seed companies and seed distribution systems improved fertilizer supply systems and more efficient fertilizer value chains more inclusive business models linking agri-business, commercial farms and smallholSder farmers better water management mixed crop livestock systems.
To ensure progress is made on the firm commitments, the AGRF issued to delegates a detailed plan of action. Government and development groups including the African Union and AGRA will conduct peer review assessments to ensure various science and technology inventions and innovations are implemented as soon as possible.
“We should all aim for the greatest aim in life and that is the game of life” the late Norman Borlaug (1914-2009).
“Do not tell me how many good varieties have been developed; tell me how many of those varieties
have reached local farmer” the late Norman Borlaug (1914-2009).
“If you invest 10 dollars in a woman and in man, you are most likely to get up to 120% returns from a woman than from a man!” representative African Development Banks
From left, Joshua O. Minai, Projects and Programmes Coordinator African Youth Initiative on Climate Change- Kenya/ Intern Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan former UN Secretary General and current Chairman to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA).