Agriculture in Africa: Achieving 20/20/20 vision

Under the theme “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, the 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa will provide an important platform for regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society to deepen the continent’s integration agenda and renew commitment to a sustainable path of growth and development.

Founded on the principle that agriculture is central to sustainable development, the New Vision for Agriculture was launched in 2011 as a benchmark for agricultural transformation in developing countries worldwide. The New Vision envisions a food system that, wherever it is applied, realises the following:

  • a 20% increase each decade in economic growth and opportunity,
  • a 20% improvement each decade in agriculture productivity and nutrition,
  • a 20% decrease each decade in agriculture’s environmental footprint.

In other words, economic growth, global food security and environmental sustainability are advanced measurably and simultaneously, using market-based approaches to make them happen.

The role of the private sector

The private sector plays a critical role in the strategy for The New Vision, and not surprisingly the initiative is led by 26 global partner companies that span the full food value chain and beyond. One of them is Syngenta International, whose CEO, Michael Mack, is a panelist at this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa, in a debate titled “Agriculture: Investing in Transformation”.

Joining him will be Philip Kiriro (President and Chairman of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation), Jane Karuku (President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) and James Mwangi (Group CEO and Managing Director, Equity Bank) and Hailemariam Dessalegn (Prime Minister of Ethiopia). The panel will tackle such questions as:

Africa: Tackling the challenge

A number of countries in Africa have begun to tackle the challenge laid down by the New Vision.  In Ghana, for instance, agricultural infrastructure is being expanded through an innovative long-term private financing solution. Developed by AgDevCo, the model involves long-term financing being made available at concessionary rates (often by the international community) to partially fund the capital costs of agriculture infrastructure (such as irrigation and land preparation), with a corresponding transformation requirement.

AgDevCo is using this model to create a pool of “patient capital” to build irrigation schemes for smallholders, who then lease part of their unused land to a commercial farm investor. The investor in turn pays back the “patient” capital for the irrigation scheme on behalf of the smallholders. Other examples of significant and innovative financing for agricultural transformation are the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor Catalytic Fund in Mozambique and The Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA) in Ethiopia.

What are your views on the role of Agriculture in driving transformation in Africa, and how do you see it contributing to delivering on Africa’s promise?
David Okwara

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