The new vision for agriculture

In our previous article, Agriculture in Africa: Achieving 20/20/20 Vision, we looked at the New Vision for Agriculture. Launched in 2011, the initiative focuses on a food system designed to achieve a high standard of growth and transformation wherever it is implemented.

During the 23rd World Economic Forum, with the central focus of “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, a debate with the title: “Agriculture: Investing in Transformation” will be held. This debate sees a panel of experts tackling the following key questions:

A paradigm shift

The New Vision represents a major paradigm shift in the way agriculture is viewed, from seeing it in philanthropic terms to approaching it as a market investment. Seen in this way, actors in the food system are required to collaborate to develop new solutions and leverage investments for maximum economic (and indeed social) impact.

The old system of broadly implemented, individual initiatives across an entire country needs to make way for holistic mini-transformations that provide significant change energy in specific geographic region or value chain, and can be scaled from there. Separate agendas for countries, donors and the private sector have to move to a coordinated, multi-stakeholder agenda and execution process.

Government-driven programmes that treat everything as a priority have to move to market-driven approaches – with the government as a key enabler – that focus on specific activity choices in a specific order, and don’t try to do everything.

Designing programmes for scalability

Finally, there needs to be a move away from designing programmes around technical and political considerations to designing programmes for scalability.

For this to happen, a system needs to be created where stakeholders have the incentive to innovate, the resilience to endure risk and the capital to invest in growth. And if we get it right, we’ll have the multi-stakeholder partnerships, the private-sector investment, the improved infrastructure, the expanded regional markets and the women’s empowerment we need to achieve food security for the long term.

The agricultural debate taking place during WEF this year, presents an opportunity for leaders in the field to discuss key challenges and opportunities in the agricultural sector. Based on the understanding that the New Vision represents a paradigm shift, how do you think the change, to viewing agriculture as a market investment, will come to fruition?
David Okwara

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