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Etsree, Goodbye, Au Revoir: AGRF19 draws to a close amidst excitement, rejuvenation and the desire to fast track Africa’s agricultural revolution

AGRF 2019

September 6th, 2019

The talking drums of Ghana have sounded. The great men and women have spoken. From Morocco to Eswatini, the Gambia to Djibouti, the chorus is “This is Africa’s Century”. 

The ninth edition of the African Green Revolution Forum drew to a close on Friday morning, leaving the continent excited about the prospects of an agricultural revolution propelled by a digital transformation.

More than 2300 delegates including current and retired presidents and heads of state and government, ministers, scientists, members of the civil society and farmers, for three days, took over the Accra International Conference Centre, where discussions around the state of African agriculture took prominence. The gathering was hosted under the leadership of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana and was chaperoned by Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture.

Policy proposals, product showcases and weighty discussions were made as mega-financial deals were struck in the Deal Room to actualize the resolutions made at the conference. 

It was also at the AGRF19 that Strive Masiyiwa announced his retirement as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and AGRF Board, handing over the baton to H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn.

It was also announced that Rwanda will host the AGRF secretariat and that starting in 2020, the East African state will be hosting the AGRF every alternate year.

Three major awards were handed out at the conference – the Africa Food Prize, the GoGettaz Award and the CTA Award.

The theme of this year’s AGRF was “Grow Digital: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.” 

A rigorous and informative series of technical assessments, policy analyses, and political discussions produced a new level of consensus that could dramatically accelerate efforts to make farming in Africa more productive, profitable, sustainable and inclusive. 

During the Forum, delegates explored the practical application of digital innovations such as big data, blockchain, digital IDs, drones, machine learning, robotics, and sensors. Farmers demonstrated how digital innovations and new technologies are transforming their household businesses and communities. 

Agri-preneurs and business leaders showcased innovative models ready for investments and scaling. Researchers and thought leaders demonstrated the power of big data systems and analytics for business and evidence-based policy. Meanwhile public sector leaders shared their experience in delivering digitalization and agri-tech strategies, policies, and investments to stimulate the growth trajectory of their whole country.

Deliberations at the forum made it clear that coordinated efforts of public and private sector actors can unlock the potential of advances in everything from big data to block chain systems, drones, robotics, and machine learning platforms. These innovations will help to overcome many different challenges and generate a host of new opportunities, particularly for Africa’s young, digitally-savvy entrepreneurs. 

Delegates also agreed that realizing the promise of digital farmers’ services to drive environmentally and commercially sustainable agriculture ventures will require new investments. These investments will help to build technologies and data platforms tailored to the way people grow and sell agriculture commodities in sub-Saharan Africa. There was also an emphasis on developing inclusive innovations—technologies and services that are accessible to all farmers everywhere, including women farmers and those still at the subsistence level.