Friday, 22 April 2016

Obasanjo and AGRA Cohorts Launch Africa Food Prize

Participants at the just concluded 12th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) in Accra, Ghana have called on the private sector to translate Malabo commitment into bankable business plans that can attract required resources necessary for accelerated implementation.

Former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo with Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) President , Dr. Agnes Kalibata, at the launch of the Africa Food Prize at the just concluded 12th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) in Accra, GhanaFormer Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo with Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) President , Dr. Agnes Kalibata, at the launch of the Africa Food Prize at the just concluded 12th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) in Accra, Ghana The call formed part of the recommendations made at the end of the CAADP PP meeting which focused on, “Innovative financing and Renewed Partnerships to Accelerate the Implementation of CAADP.”

The CAADP PP, brought together over 400 African and global leaders from international organisations, African Governments, including parliamentarians from AU Member States, private agribusiness firms, farmers, NGOs and civil society organizations. The 12th CAADP PP was designed to deliver on the AU Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Africa Agricultural Growth and Transformation and the AU Agenda 2063, through speeding up CAADP implementation as a result of financial innovation and partnerships. Delegates at the meeting underscored the need to innovate so as to address the gaps in the financial products and delivery of financial services. The meeting also highlighted the need to implement the Malabo Declaration with greater coordination across sectors on the continent and within regions. The participants added that development finance policies and efforts exist but the delivery of the development finance services is clearly the weakness. On innovative delivery financial services, participants asked the stakeholders to consider how the digital revolution in financial services could be used to collect the much needed data for planning and risk management.

Participants also called on stakeholders to educate the smallholder farmers and the small and medium enterprises on how to conduct business and improve business skills. On agriculture and food insecurity risk management, it was agreed that stakeholders shall address the quality of data requirement collectively together with the national planning data and financial services to reduce the unit cost of investment, but to also create the opportunity for this investment to be considered as a public good. “Member states shall continue to out in place the necessary infrastructure, building capacity and creating a good environment for the risk management markets to make it more attractive.” One of the key messages from the meeting is the call for a coherent linkage across regional markets that ensure coordination but also address the multi- sectoral dimensions of agriculture and rural development. It was noted that the public sector needs to do the heavy lifting so as to create an attractive environment for the private sector. The meeting also reaffirmed the vital role for agriculture in leading African development and serving as a catalyst for the needs of the youth and women. Speaking during the opening session, African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, reiterated that the only way to sustainably deliver on the Heads of State Commitments on Malabo was to, “mobilize our own continental human and financial resources and build strong partnerships for an accountable and efficient implementation of the CAADP Agenda.” She informed the gathering that the Malabo Declaration, in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063, reiterates a call for action and delivery of results and impact and an expedient process of translating the commitments into results. “We have made a tremendous effort to align the global indicators set in the SDGs with those of the 10-year Plan of Agenda 2063 stipulated in the Malabo Declaration and translated into the CAADP Result Framework and Implementation Roadmap. “This will facilitate our Member States to customize both the SDGs and the CAADP-Malabo targets,’’ she said. “Agriculture is proven to reduce poverty 11 times compared to other sectors. Hence my plea to all Member States is to follow through on their 2003 Maputo commitment reiterated in their 2014 Malabo Declaration to invest at least 10 % of their public budget in agriculture.” Tumusiime said renewed partnerships built on mutual accountability would help Governments, the Private Sector, Farmers and Farmers organizations as well as development partners to deliver on results and Impact for a transformed Agriculture and reach the targets set by the CAADP, Malabo Declaration and the SDGs.

Ghanian Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said the agricultural sector was of critical importance to stimulate broad economic growth as he called for more enhanced investments from the private sector into agriculture. Speaking during the opening ceremony, the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, said that agriculture still remains the best sector that offers the continent escape from poverty. He said of all the challenges that Africa faces, agriculture is one that transcends and embraces all the other. “Agriculture, which employs or provides livelihoods to 60% of the population while contributing 20-30% to Africa’s GDP, is the sector that could by itself enable to save the greatest number of Africans from extreme poverty while giving them their dignity back.” Speaking yesterday at the opening of the 12th CAADP PP taking place in Accra, he said regrettably, agriculture attracts less than 5% of lending from financial institutions on the continent, leaving farmers and agricultural enterprises starved of the capital they need to operate and grow their businesses. “Our continent today runs the risk of missing a unique opportunity to develop and offer its youth the jobs it has the obligation to provide if it wants to avoid social implosion. Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said “Africa can only make it happen if we collectively innovate and collectively agree to account for the resources injected and results and impact that ensue. Indeed, as a continent, with a community of destiny, we cannot afford to invest into our agriculture the same way we have been doing thus far.’’ Dr. Mayaki urged Africa to demonstrate how proactive it is in injecting its own resources into agriculture and to have a more inward looking approach into self-reliance on domestic resources. During the opening ceremony also, Tumusiime chaired a session that saw President. Obasanjo, President Kufour and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, launch the Africa Food Prize.

The Africa Food Prize is a transition from the Yara Prize, Africa’s most prestigious award recognizing outstanding contributions to reducing hunger and poverty. It is also a response to the recommendation by AU Heads of State and Government in their Malabo Declaration to institutionalize a system for peer review that encourages good performance on achievement of progress made in implementing the provisions of the Declaration and to recognize biennially, exemplary performance through awards. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President disclosed that the US $100,000 accolade will recognize outstanding individuals and institutions that are changing the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives. “Winners will be selected by a panel of independent and distinguished leaders in African agriculture chaired by President H.E Obasanjo. “The Africa Food Prize will shine a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to help millions of smallholder farmers deliver a new era of sustainable food security and economic opportunity. “We encourage you to embrace this opportunity to honour the best and brightest in African agriculture by nominating candidates for the Africa Food Prize who are dedicated to putting smallholder farmers at the centre of Africans growing economies.”

By Babatunde Jimoh