‘Seize the moment! Securing Africa’s rise through agricultural transformation’ was the theme and campaign for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF2016). The event brought together over 1,500 delegates who included heads of state and government ministries, development partners, farmer organizations, private sector, eminent thought leaders, researchers, and finance and investment leaders. The International Potato Center (CIP) participated in the event held at the United Nations complex in Nairobi, Kenya, 5–9 Sep 2016.
CIP was represented by Dr. Adiel Mbabu-Regional Director, CIP-SSA, Dr. Jan Low – Principle Scientist and Leader of the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI), Dr. Maria Andrade – Country Manager Mozambique and Senior Sweetpotato Breeder SSA and Asia, Dr. Hilda Munyua – Project Manager for Building Nutritious Food Baskets (BNFB); Joyce Maru – Capacity Development and Communication Specialist (BNFB) and Dr. Dieudonne Harahagazwe Crop- Ecophysiology and Modeling Scientist.
At the ‘one CGIAR’ booth, CIP showcased its game-changing technologies and work on potato and sweetpotato as a pathway to addressing hunger and malnutrition. Visitors to the booth were particularly interested to find out how they could access improved seed potato varieties and Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) planting materials – again stressing the need to continue our focus on research for development (R4D) to scale-up research outputs and reach a critical mass for impact.
A product that was of special interest to most visitors who came to the CIP booth is the value- -adding, nutritious and delicious OFSP bread which is CIP’s initiative through a public private partnership(PPP) with Tuskys – a Kenyan Supermarket.
Tusky’s CEO Mr. Daniel Githua also attended the event and participated at the closed Global Panel on Food Security and Nutrition session along with Dr. Maria Andrade.
Dr. Maria Andrade participated in a high level side event which comprised of a global panel focusing on Agriculture and Food Systems on Nutrition while Dr. Jan low was one of the panelists at a side event focusing on ‘Unlocking the Potato Value Chains in Africa’ – how can we make value chains work. A key highlight from the potato valued chain side event was the need to create a Potato consortium which ensures a concerted effort by all the key actors along the value chains to address existing bottlenecks (access to quality seed potato, finance, markets, information and technologies; disease burden, post-harvest management.)
Dr. Jan Low and Dr. Maria Andrade were recognized and honored at a special dinner hosted by the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), for their exemplary and inspiring work as women scientists, as evidenced by their recent World Food Prize win. AWARD also recognized Jan’s and Maria’s efforts as mentors to young women scientists. Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg (Director AWARD) remarked that the WFP winners recognize the spirit that AWARD seeks to nurture. They represent mentoring, an integral and fundamental AWARD spirit, leaving behind an inspiring legacy for budding youth and women scientists
Key messages from the discussions:
Discussions and insights mainly focused on how to advance agricultural policies and secure investments that will ensure a better life for millions of Africa’s farmers and families.
- African governments, private sector, development partners and stakeholders in should invest and ‘seize the moment’ to transform African agriculture into an engine for promoting long-term socio-economic growth and development. According to Dr. Akin Adesina – President of the African Development Bank; Stunted children of today are the stunted economies of tomorrow” so seizing the moment is both critical and visionary
- African Agriculture Status Report (AASR) was officially launched which outlined the 10-year progress made towards an Agriculture Transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa. The report highlighted that much of Africa has realized a sustained growth in agriculture especially countries that embraced and effectively implemented the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). However “The track record is far from perfect…many governments face significant budget constraints and far too many farming families continue to lack basic inputs, like improved seeds or fertilizers” said AGRA President Agnes Kalibata. “
- Delegates were challenged to ‘take it to the farmers’ by ensuring that farmers have access to existing game-changing technologies, finance, markets, knowledge and information for better impact.
- Stakeholders in Agriculture should ensure accountability in agricultural performance by using regional monitoring tools and contextualized scorecards.
- Key drivers of change include strong policy environment, strengthened individual and institutional capacities, strong focus on women and youth and emphasis on agribusiness
- Collective action through public-private partnerships (PPPs) and value chain approach is critical.