Ex-Ethiopian PM on why Rwanda was named new home for continental agric body

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said that Rwanda was selected to host the headquarters of the African Green Revolution Forum for the next five years due to its commitment to agriculture transformation. 

Hailemariam is the new Chairperson for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa having taken over from Zimbabwean business magnate Strive Masiyiwa.

He is also the chairperson of AGRF Partners Group, an alliance of organisations keen on Africa’s agriculture transformation.

In September this year, Rwanda was announced as the new home of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). 

In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Hailemariam said that Rwanda’s choice was, among other things, informed by its commitment to agricultural development and transformation.

The development comes only five years to the set target of achieving of the Malabo Declaration, which seeks to eradicate hunger on the African continent, notably through allocating at least 10 per cent of national budget to the sector. 

The former Ethiopian premier said that, although the chances of achieving the set targets under the framework are low, there was need to step up momentum.

This, he said, has resulted into adjustment of the African Green Revolution Forum’s model from hosting annual forums to a series of yearlong engagement sessions.

“Under the Malabo Declaration we’ve to eradicate hunger in 5 years’ time, this is not very realistic at the moment, so we have to focus on Sustainable Development Goals on reducing poverty and eradicating hunger.

“To achieve, we have to redouble our efforts. That is why we are re-launching the AGRF, with a new momentum,” Hailemariam said.

He added: “Rwanda has shown the best example in agriculture transformation, and the country was selected by the AGRF simply because of its performance. If every country can perform as Rwanda has done, we can get closer to the goals. We want to improve on our experience sharing,” he said.

Driven by the urgency to act, the AGRF chair said the organisation will now be running year-round campaigns to drive action on priority issues culminating in the annual AGRF summit. The summits attracts agriculture leaders from across Africa and beyond with the objective of agreeing on financial, policy and programme commitments for impact.

A new-look AGRF is set to be unveiled Tuesday, while Rwanda will officially be announced as the host of the AGRF 2020 Summit. The first summit under the new arrangement will be held in Kigali from September 8-11 2020.

AGRF will now adjust its approach and adopt a “home-and-away” model, which will see the Forum alternate between hosting the event in Rwanda in even years and other countries across the continent in alternate years.  

The AGRF Partners Group is a coalition of 21 leading actors in African agriculture, all focused on putting farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economies.

Members include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Others are the Mastercard Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).