Enabling new pathways to turn smallholders into future agribusinesses
Africa is on the move, with signs of prosperity and progress seen in entire economies and in the lives of millions of its people. These signs are giving rise to even greater aspirations for the years ahead. We see many nations pushing to achieve middle income status, and a few others gunning for high income status by 2050.
This vision is attainable, but it will require Africa’s agricultural sector and food systems to more rapidly and sustainably deliver incomes, food security, nutrition, and wider economic opportunities. For all of the signs of progress in recent years, Africa still needs to move from food shortage to surplus, drive beneficial continental trade, and create millions of jobs and opportunities, particularly for women and youth. Business and progress as usual is not enough for our aspirations; we must do more and do it more successfully.
Africa’s experience and evidence shows that achieving food security and huge returns on agribusiness requires leaders that are visionary and accountable and that can integrate efforts by diverse stakeholders including farmers, local and global private sector, governments, civil society, investors, and development partners into successful programs. Africa’s future will depend on committed and innovative leadership that is prepared for regular and rigorous measures to drive the growth required for agricultural transformation.
The 2018 AGRF will take stock, evaluate actions, and learn from compelling evidence across the continent, presented by many of the most inspiring leaders turning agriculture into thriving enterprises. Farmers will demonstrate how the use of technology and better farming methods is able to transform entire communities and nations; public sector thought leaders will share their experience in delivering policies and investments to advance jobs and food security and change the growth trajectory of whole nations; while private sector champions and agripreneurs will showcase their efforts in innovation and how they are opening up scalable and sustainable market opportunities in Africa’s evolving food systems.
Given this theme, we could not ask for a better host for the 2018 AGRF than the Government of Rwanda, recently recognized by the African Union Commission as the top performing country at the continental CAADP Biennial Review. The accolade celebrated Rwanda’s drive for progress on agriculture’s role in driving improvements in incomes, food security, and poverty reduction at the center of its wider economic transformation.
Africa can take a similar trajectory to meet its goals by tapping into the full potential of its smallholder farmers and agribusiness sector. The era of disruptive innovation, knowledge economies, and big data is opening new opportunities. We must use these advances to learn and be better and faster at deploying solutions that allow us to leapfrog to an era of sustained inclusive development through value addition and creating viable agribusinesses. With inspirational leadership that measures and tracks the progress we all want to see, we can chart and advance the journey to Africa’s future and prosperity.