Sep 21, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

6 African agri-tech innovators named winners of Pitch AgriHack challenge

Original Post: Disrupt Africa

Six African agri-tech innovators have been named winners of the eighth edition of Pitch AgriHack, securing a share of US$45,000 to invest in the growth of their ventures.

The 2022 Pitch AgriHack saw a 30 per cent increase in completed applications, with entries rolling in from 37 African countries. The winners hailed from all four corners of the continent, and had the chance to present their businesses to delegates at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), where they participated in the AGRF Agribusiness Dealroom.

Competing in three open competition categories – Early-stage, Mature- or Growth-stage, and Women-led – the Pitch AgriHack winners and runners-up were allocated cash prizes of US$10,000 and US$5,000 respectively. A fourth invite-only category known as the AYuTe Africa Challenge, an initiative of Heifer International, will award grants up to US$1.5 million later this year to scalable ventures that are already generating measurable impact for Africa’s smallholder farmers.

The Early-Stage winner was Imen Hbiri of Tunisia’s RoboCare in Tunisia, a patented multispectral disease detector, while runner-up was Donald Mudenge of Zimbabwe’s Mbeu Yedu, which digitises Community Seed Banks to give smallholder farmers access to greater seed-varieties.

The Mature and Growth-Stage winner was Hamis El Gabry of Egypt’s Mozare3, an agri-fintech company that connects small farmers to the agriculture supply chain. Allan Coredo of Kenya’s FarmIT, which combines crop mapping and market linkages to help vegetable farmers, came second.

Finally, the Women-led Agribusiness winner was Esther Kimani of Kenya’s Farmer LifeLine Technologies, which helps farmers to get ahead of pests and pathogens with a proprietary disease detection device. Runner-up was Anaporka Adazabra of Ghana’s Farmio, which has developed a Smart Greenhouse package.

“Our goal is to catalyse impact,” said Dickson Naftali, Head of Generation Africa at the Pitch AgriHack Winners Showcase and Innovators Panel at the AGRF Summit. “All of the people on stage today are making the business of farming easier, more productive, and more predictable for smallholder farmers. They are the front line in our food systems revolution.”   

Sep 18, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

Teaching Africa to mind its food

Original Post: Nation Media

In 2004, 17-year-old Nungari Mwangi boarded a plane for the first time in her life with a one-way ticket from Kenya to Wales, United Kingdom, not knowing that the next time she would come back home would be six years later.

Upon completing her secondary school education at Precious Blood Riruta, Dr Mwangi received a scholarship to the United World Colleges (UWC) in Wales where she passed the International Baccalaureate diploma.

She was then awarded the Shelby Davis scholarship, through UWC, to join Brown University, an Ivy League institution in the United States, to study political science.

Sep 10, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

The Kenyan goose that lay golden egg for Rwandese poultry keeper

Original Post: Nation Media

In December last year, Rwandese poultry farmer Jean Baptiste sent his two workers, one a veterinary doctor, to Nairobi for lessons on insect farming for livestock feeds at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe).

The two workers during their stay in the country also visited three farmers in Kiambu County, who were producing the black solder flies (BSF)on a small-scale for use as protein in livestock feeds.

Armed with the knowledge from Kenyan farmers and Icipe scientists, Baptiste, a farmer based in Mayange village, Bugesera District, on the outskirts of the capital Kigali, implemented the lessons he had learnt.

Sep 9, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

AGRF 2022 Summit Ends With Call For Urgent Action To Transform African Food Systems

Original Post: KT Press

African governments need to act fast and decisively to address challenges affecting the agriculture sector and investing in key areas that will see farmers increase output if the continent is to achieve sustainable and resilient food systems.

The call was sounded at the end of the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2022) which concluded in Kigali on Friday, marking a turning point for African agriculture and food systems.

The AGRF 2022 Summit concluded with optimism and a strong ask to leaders to act decisively and swiftly to implement the ambitions and practical actions discussed during the summit.

The Summit which brought together over 2400 delegates in Kigali and over 4000 delegates virtually, highlighted the importance of collaboration in fast-tracking progress and emphasized the need for cooperation and capacity building as a response to the various shocks currently affecting the continent’s food systems.

Current and former Heads of State and Government leaders declared their commitment to supporting and driving efforts to build food security and transform food systems, and build a sustainable, profitable, and productive agricultural ecosystem in Africa.

They voiced their determination to direct more resources to agriculture and committed to building stronger partnerships within and outside Africa, including with the Commonwealth member states.

The AGRF chair, Hailemariam Desalegn, said the continent must move fast and act decisively.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Rwanda stressed the need to translate the discussions into action.

“Throughout this AGRF 2022 Summit, it has been emphasized that we cannot just continue talking and not implementing. From here, we should have fewer words and more action,”
“It is now time for Africa to find solutions for its problems and we must take matters into our own hands to develop resilient food systems that can withstand external shocks.” Dr. Mukeshimana said.

Speakers throughout the week hailed the current and ongoing efforts by African nations toward building sustainability.

However, they stressed the need to boost Africa’s food production; to reduce the overreliance on imports, and to lessen public expenditure.

They noted that Africa’s agriculture sector hosts numerous opportunities, citing the need for immediate action and coordinated efforts as key in enabling the continent to produce enough to nourish her population and her economies.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata.

In his closing remarks, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and chair AGRF, Hailemariam Dessalegn said that the AGRF 2022 summit was aimed at fostering bold actions and there is a political will across the continent to move forward fast.

“I am delighted to confirm that we have made the first steps on this journey. I would like to reiterate that we cannot do it alone,”

“The summit has emphasized the role our partners play in this transformation journey. We must walk the talk together” he said.

The summit emphasized the indispensable role of the private sector. Stakeholders stressed that innovation in finance must be led and supported by governments and driven by entrepreneurs to reality.

The full summit declaration can be accessed here

A moment of silence for Queen Elizabeth II was observed during the AGRF 2022 closing ceremony.
| AGRF 2022 Summit voices

AGRF calls for $200bn funding for resilient food systems in Africa

Original Post: The New Times

The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) has called on global leaders to mobilise $200 billion in investment annually into adaptive food systems – able to withstand climate change and new challenges as they emerge – across Africa.

This is one of the resolutions contained in the declaration made on Friday at the conclusion of the 12th AGRF summit which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from September 5-9, 2022. It was held under the theme “Grow. Nourish. Reward – Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems.”

While reading the declaration to the Summit participants, Jennifer Baarn, Ag Managing Director of AGRF said that climate change is real and is threatening lives and increasing hunger.

For instance, in June this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of the increasing risk of famine in the Horn of Africa due to severe and prolonged drought conditions, calling for urgent life-saving and livelihood assistance to avert a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’.

The region was already facing high levels of food insecurity, with 16.7 million people projected to be in crisis or worse levels of high acute food insecurity due solely to the drought in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

In Rwanda, last year, over 36,000 households comprising over 156,000 members were hit by prolonged drought in the country’s Eastern Province, prompting the Government to launch an exercise to provide them with food relief.

“We are committed to confronting the threat posed by climate change. We agree to work with nature, allowing our land and biodiversity life-sources to regenerate, which builds resilience to climate change. Presidents and ministers reiterated the importance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C,” the above-mentioned Declaration reads in part.

“The AGRF calls on global leaders to mobilise investment of $200 billion per year into adaptive food systems across Africa. We urge member states to address this and food systems transformation this November at COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh [Egypt], with leaders agreeing to ensure a common African position at the summit,” it added.

COP – Conference of Parties – is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Summit was attended by6,467 participants in a hybrid model – with some participants (over 2,400) attending it in person in Kigali, and the remaining ones following it online.

“This year’s AGRF, taking place as the continent continues to feel the shocks of successive crises, amplified our understanding of the vulnerability of our food systems. The Covid-19 pandemic placed extraordinary strain on our countries. Climate change is real, threatening livelihoods and increasing hunger,” Baarn said.

“Our food systems are fragile. The price of food has risen by more than 40% since the beginning of Covid-19, and 147 million people are facing crisis levels of food insecurity – an increase of 20 million since the beginning of 2022,” she indicated.

The Summit participants held that sustainable food systems are the only pathway to achieving the key sustainable development goal of ending hunger by 2030.

Current and former leaders outlined their policy reforms and increased self-sufficiency following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If anything, the global pandemic and the ongoing crisis [Russia-Ukraine war] have taught us that we have to work on the national level, regionally, in partnership with other actors to increase [agro]processing on the continent, but also seek solutions in [farm] inputs for example, fertilisers, innovation, among others,” Baarn observed.

Hailemariam Dessalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of AGRA and the AGRF Partners Group said that we are committed to drive climate smart agriculture, and improve climate finance.

As the continent is preparing for COP27, he said that it will need a common position at the conference in regards to addressing climate change.

“We will work with the African Union to strengthen Africa’s position and voice,” he said.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources said that the meeting participants discussed improving Africa’s food systems, “and I am confident that the solutions that we have drawn together will massively contribute to rapid food system transformation on the continent.”

Sep 8, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

Ghanaian expert wins $100,000 Africa Food Prize

Original Post: Graphic Online

A Ghanaian plant geneticist, Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, has won the 2022 Africa Food Prize at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) AGRF2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Africa Food Prize is the AGRF’s highest award that recognises outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa.

Prof. Danquah, a founding director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) is being celebrated for his outstanding expertise, leadership and grantsmanship skills that led to the establishment and development of the centre as a world-class facility for training plant breeders in Africa for Africa.

He was chosen ahead of other nominees by a distinguished judging panel of leaders in African agriculture, comprising Africa Food Prize Committee President former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Vera Songwe, Dr Eleni Z. Gabre- Madhin, Dr KamauRutenberg, Mr Birama Sidibé and Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, and Dr Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli.

Africa Green Revolution Forum

The AGRF is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward. Rwanda is hosting the 12th annual summit of the forum in Kigali from September 5 -9, under the theme: “Grow, Nourish, Reward – Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems.”

Award, announcement

Announcing the winner at the Forum, the Committee Chairman, former President Obasanjo said Prof. Danquah’s achievement was truly remarkable, given the way he had inspired and helped transformed the WACCI.

“It is a great privilege to be able to honour and shine a spotlight on the truly remarkable achievements of Prof. Danquah.

“His leadership in genetic innovation inspires the future of food security and nutrition in Africa and has made a tangible difference to how a new generation is working to improve African food systems. He has been and continues to be, a true inspiration for many young minds.

“On behalf of the African Food PrizeCommittee, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations and appreciation for his continuing endeavours,” Mr Obansanjo said.

Giving a brief background to Prof. Danquah’s works, the committee said through his leadership, WACCI attracted more than$30M US dollars of research and development funding and trained more than 120 PhD and 49MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology from 19 African countries.

This has led to more than 60 improved seed varieties, including superior maize hybrid varieties, which will help boost yield for farmers and contribute towards food and nutrition security.

Currently, the institution boasts a new molecular biology/tissue culture laboratory, a bio informaticsn nplatform, and cutting-edge university farms including a US$300,000 ultra-modern screen house for controlled experiments.

This year’s winner selection is a reflection of the importance of promoting science and technology as tools to develop solutions for sustainable food systems.

Reacting to the news of being named the winner, Prof. Danquah said he was honoured by the award, and the commendation of the role of research and science in Africa’s approach to agriculture.

“The award recognises the crucial work we do to train crop researchers at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement.

“The time is now for more first-class science by Africans in Africa for Africa, in collaboration with global partners to change the narrative on our agriculture.

“Without genetic innovation driven by good science, our vision for resilient food systems will tarry,” Prof. Danquah maintained.

Prof. Danquah, also a former director of the Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghana, founded the WACCI in 2007 at the University of Ghana, with the “aim of training a new generation of plant breeders to develop improved varieties of staple crops in West and Central Africa.”

He is a Professor of Plant Genetics at the Department of Crop Science of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana.

In 2013, he was awarded the University of Ghana’s Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service.

His works have seen him receive a number of international honours as well and these include, being made a member of the IAEA’s Standing Advisory Group on NuclearApplications.

In 2018, he was also awarded the Global Confederation of Higher EducationAssociations for Agricultural and Life Sciences(GCHERA) World Agriculture Prize for his significant contribution to the mission of the University of Ghana through education, research and knowledge transfer for the benefit of society, the youngest and fi rst African to win the prize which was established in 2013.

| AGRF 2022 Summit voices

Africa’s SMEs will make or break its food systems

Original Post: African Business

Opinion by Daan Wensing and Jennifer Baarn

Bold actions are needed to transform the way Africa produces and consumes food, write the CEO of IDH and managing director of the AGRF.

As Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine continue to send shockwaves through the agricultural sector, the damage to global food security is becoming irreversible. Currently 1.2bnn people are suffering from chronic undernutrition and more than 820m people, or 10% of the world’s population, are going hungry, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO.)

That’s not all. More than 48m people around the world are on the brink of famine, according to World Food Programme (WFP) estimates. And, as the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) reports, the situation is fast worsening: at 193m, the number of people facing acute food insecurity at crisis levels or worse in 2021 was up by nearly 40m compared to 2020.

Before 24 February 2022, a confluence of forces – including the global pandemic, climate change and evolving dietary habits – was already conspiring to fracture already fragmented supply chains. Then the Russian invasion of Ukraine quickly escalated the situation as Russia’s blockade on the export of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain dramatically hit food-price inflation. The two agricultural giants account for 29% of global wheat exports and 62% of sunflower oil production collectively.

This has hit emerging markets and developing economies disproportionately hard, with five of the ten most-at-risk countries located in Africa, according to the WFP.

Green shoots of hope

Yet an enormous opportunity for Africa to take back control of its future food security systems lies with the continent’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which provide about 80% of jobs.

Sub-Saharan Africa alone is home to 44m micro, small and medium-sized businesses, providing communities and families across multiple countries with prospects, jobs and income. They are also essential players in ensuring food security: just 20% of food production is for the growers. The remaining 80% is mostly marketed and handled through an intricate network of private suppliers.

It has been proven time and again that a stable, developing and well-connected SME can unlock financial inclusion for entire communities. This makes it a painful irony that the SME sector in Africa has suffered more than anywhere else since 2019.

Despite the multi-faceted challenges, there are glimmers of hope across Africa’s SME spectrum. The MasterCard SME Confidence Index revealed that 74% are confident about the next 12 months and close to half expect their revenues to increase.

Essential to this growth will be digital payments and digitalised processes, streamlined access to credit and funding, better data and trans-border trading. The vast majority of respondents (89% in Kenya, 81% in West Africa and 73% in Cote d’Ivoire) were also confident that e-commerce too will play a game-changing role.

At the core

However, for Africa’s food systems to undergo the transformation that is so essential, multiple systemic issues must first be addressed. These are beyond the scope of a single organisation or initiative: until organisations stop working in silos and start collaborating effectively, any efforts to drive transformation will be severely hampered.

Similarly, slow investment rates in agriculture and food production are holding back change. There needs to be a stronger focus on encouraging trade between areas of surplus and those of deficit. And, while many other socio-economic and environmental drivers also need attention, nothing is more important than replacing imports into Africa with home-based production.

The focus also needs to shift to nutrition, enabling the uptake of balanced diets including elements like fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, lipids and tubers as well as traditional staples like grain, rice and cassava. Progress is visible: these more diverse foodstuffs now form between 50% and 70% of urban and rural diets. Processed foods, too, are rapidly gaining traction, providing greater opportunities for increased production and value added across the African food system, generating more jobs, more income and better food security.

To get this process rolling, the AGRF and IDH are combining their strengths and areas of expertise to generate some real impetus, with important focus on the AGRF 2022 summit, taking place from 5-9 September in Kigali, Rwanda. The summit gathers farmers, SMEs, leaders, officials and other voices across agriculture, government and the public and private sectors, to combine resources and effort, generate and pledge funding, and drive new policies for the future.

Transformational impact

Many initiatives already underway are proving the transformational impact that the right will and energy are capable of having on Africa’s SMEs and food systems. For example, Rwandan horticultural business Garden Fresh is one of the SMEs being supported by the HortInvest project in which IDH is involved. HortInvest focuses on developing domestic markets, improving nutrition and food security, developing export value chains and enabling increased sustainable incomes for 44,000+ farmer households.

Daan Wensing is the CEO of IDH, and Jennifer Baarn is Managing Director of AGRF.

Sep 7, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

Tony Blair: World food system needs a new kind of investment

Original Post: African Business

Opinion by Tony Blair

Channelling patient, climate-smart investment to Africa’s dynamic agri-business sector is not only the right thing to do. There is a business case, says the former UK prime minister.

As African Presidents, agri-businesses, tech entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists come together in Kigali this week at the AGRF food and agriculture summit, the world is hungrier than it has been in years.

2014 saw the number of people affected by hunger beginning to slowly increase, for the first time in decades. The last two years have seen that slow rise gather pace – around 3bn people worldwide can no longer afford healthy diets. The world has moved backwards in its efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.   

Aug 3, 2022 | AGRF 2022 Summit voices

With eight years left to 2030, bold actions are required for Africa to feed herself


By Hailemariam Dessalegn

Promising progress is being made in Africa’s agricultural transformation. On my recent mission to Malawi, I witnessed the plans to create an Agricultural Transformation Agency in the country, a significant milestone in the journey towards fast-tracking transformation of the continent’s food systems.
This bold move by the government not only signifies commitment to take a holistic approach in dealing with hunger in the country, from the farm to the fork, but the creation of this body to coordinate different agencies’ efforts also sets a good example for the rest of the continent.
With eight years left towards the landmark 2030 when Africa, like the rest of the world, must have achieved the SDGs – notably the eradication of hunger, tackling food security will require global collaboration. It will require coordinated strategies, government commitment and large-scale action in mobilizing resources needed to unlock Africa’s ability to feed itself and the rest of the world.
In just over one month (Sept 5 – 9), leaders from Africa and the world, scientists and farmers will convene in Kigali, Rwanda for the AGRF Summit, which resumes In-person sessions after the last two years of the Covid pandemic, when a hybrid format was adopted.
Under the theme Grow, Nourish, Reward Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems, the summit will explore the action tracks that will accelerate food system transformation, especially after the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, where over 30 African national pathways were charted, but which must now be turned into actionable strategies for the attainment of the Malabo, CAADP and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Currently, about 57.9 per cent of the people in Africa are under-nourished, according to the recently released State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022, which also projects that hunger could increase, making Africa the region with the largest number of undernourished people. These statistics cannot be ignored, we need everyone to come to the table and find solutions. We all want better results, we are all interested in feeding our communities and economies that can thrive from agriculture and so we must challenge each other and keep each other accountable if we are to eradicate hunger.
Steps have already been taken by various stakeholders to deliver the innovations required to drive food system transformation, and these must be amplified for quicker impact. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has, for example, trained hundreds of seed scientists, who have released about 700 improved seed varieties for 18 different crops. Many of the commercialized varieties are of indigenous crops, which are already adapted to local conditions and have high nutrient values.
This is in addition to the capacitating of other experts who understand the intricacies of soil nutrition and can provide the best management plans for tremendous crop yields. For meaningful impact, such expertise must be circulated around Africa through partnerships with governments, the private sector and farmers’ organizations.
For agriculture to make sense, it must be viewed not just as a source of sustenance, but as a rewarding business. It is, therefore, important that we capitalize on the food trade opportunities enshrined in the African Continental Food Trade Area (AfCFTA) to create new markets for smallholder farmers, who on many occasions are forced to watch as their produce decays away for lack of local buyers.
Outside the continent, we must continue collaborating with like-minded partners in advancing solutions for global challenges like climate change, which requires diverse technical capacity and financial resources to address.
These are some of the agenda items that will define the conversations in Kigali, where participants will come together to derive actionable strategies for a food system transformation built on ambition, action and partnership. Engagements at the summit will drive towards achieving climate action, promoting of innovation, advancing market development, and deriving the right formulas for nutritious diets.
In addition, there will be numerous investment opportunities presented by both the private sector and governments, including through the Agribusiness Deal Room, which last year alone registered commitments worth $12.5 billion.
I am looking forward to exceptional outcomes from this year’s event, including detailed conversations on Africa’s response to climate change ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), which takes place in Egypt later in the year.
I invite you to reconnect and regroup with us, as we define the practical steps needed to transform and advance Africa’s food systems at the AGRF 2022 Summit

The writer is the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the current chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the AGRF Partner’s Group.