The future of Africa’s agriculture looked brighter in September as leaders from across the continent converged in Abidjan to discuss strategies for industrialising agriculture.

At the 7th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), held in the Ivorian capital between September 4th-8th at the behest of the African Development Bank (AfDB), African political leaders offered solutions and discussed challenges to the continental green agenda.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called for proper land management strategies for agriculture. Insisting that forestry and mining were increasingly competing for agricultural land, she called for efforts to make African agricultural land more economically productive.

Ivorian President Allassane Ouattara said the continent’s agricultural progress was hampered greatly by the impact of climate change and appealed to western nations to support measures to contain it.

President Ouattara said the Bank’s “High Five,” which puts agriculture as central to achieving Africa’s industrialisation agenda, has helped to make agriculture central to government plans.

In Cote d’Ivoire, President Ouattara said agriculture contributed 16% of GDP, with at least 60% of the population living on agriculture.

President Ouattara said the fact that more people depended on a sector whose contribution to the national economy was still minimal, meant the challenge of growing agriculture still remained.

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Women tea pickers in Kenya – CC 2010

The African leaders emphasised the need for the agriculture sector to generate more jobs for youth to stop the mass exodus out of Africa.

The AfDB is advocating closer linkages between development partners and policy-makers to enhance the informal sector’s contribution to building an African food and cuisine value chain.

The Bank’s proposition was made at a B2B (business-to-business) meeting on ‘AfDB’s ENABLE Youth platform: The Economics of Food Cuisine’ at the Summit.

The goal of the platform is to enhance the viability of food entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, seeking to start and grow a food-related business through knowledge-sharing; mentorship services; skills development; and access to finance.

AfDB and Hivos International have partnered and developed an inclusive end-to-end strategy that enables innovative entrepreneurs to become agents of change at the forefront of a more sustainable agri-food sector in Africa.

Young entrepreneurs will receive training along the different phases of the value chain (input, production, marketing, retail) as well as in business development.

Africa needs to move away from solely producing raw consumables and invest more in value-added processing units and branded food products and focus more on downstream activities such as the food service industry, according to the Bank.

Current heads of state and former leaders, including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) and John Kufuor (Ghana), attended the Summit, which was due to end on September 8th, with new financial investment pledges.

In 2016, at least US$30bn was pledged for investment in Africa’s agriculture sector.
(PANA, Abidjan 8/9; AfDB, 19/9)

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Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Agricultural Investments
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 7, pp. 21800A–21800B

African Jobs Shortfall
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 6, pp. 21741B–21741C

AFRICA: Boosting Agricultural Productivity
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol., Issue 3, pp. 21632A–21632C

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