Pathways to Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa
A female farmer's group in rural Mozambique is reporting increased income after joining the agroindustry business by purchasing eight grain harvesters for leasing to farmers cultivating soybean, beans and maize. The group, from Gurué district in the Zambezia Province, acquired the equipment at a cost of 3.2 million meticais ($50,000), supported by funding from several partners, including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The machinery has empowered the women to process about 60 tons of produce per season for a gross income of 100,000 meticais ($1,574). The group charges 85 meticais ($1.34) for each 50 kg bag of processed product.
"We are now earning more money processing soybeans, corn and beans, which helps us support our families and put our children through school," said Amélia Bitone, the group representative, in appreciation of the support from AGRA and others.
AGRA is a dynamic organization working across Africa to lift millions of smallholder farmers out of poverty and hunger. The institution was conceptualized in 2004, when the former United Nations (U.N.) secretary-general and Nobel Prize winner Kofi Annan addressed a U.N. gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia about the need for an agricultural transformation in Africa that would end hunger and poverty. In his speech, the late Honorable Annan challenged the world’s scientists and scholars to develop ideas and innovations that would rally around food security and agricultural development in the continent.
AGRA has built an asset base in technologies, partnerships and models that can be scaled for significant impact on the status of inclusive agricultural transformation (IAT). According to AGRA, IAT is a country-led move from subsistence agriculture to a thriving food and agricultural sector significantly contributing to the economic agenda.
According to Board Chairman H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, agricultural transformation can only be achieved by the participation of all stakeholders. "Agriculture is the way we end hunger and poverty by 2030. But we need to act urgently and take action. To do this sustainably, we need to boost both public and private investments in the sector," Dessalegn said in reference to the U.N.’s seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7).
Since inception, AGRA’s strategy has been designed to fast-track the journey to productivity-led growth in smallholder agriculture for the delivery of accelerated impact and improved livelihoods of the rural poor, especially women. This has been achieved through three mutually reinforcing intervention areas: policy and state capability; systems development; and partnerships for agricultural transformation. The impact of this involvement has been well received by the eleven countries where AGRA is operational, in East, West and southern Africa.
"AGRA, in my 4 1/2 years in this job, has been the closest partner that Ghana has had in agriculture," said the Honorable Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana's minister for agriculture.
Since 2017, AGRA’s strategy has also involved collaboration with development organizations, including USAID, UKAID, Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation — all core members of the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA). The PIATA initiative has enhanced country flagships and coordination while deepening engagements with the private sector to transition African agriculture from subsistence to sustainable agribusiness.
In the past four and a half years, AGRA has directly reached 10.1 million farmers, 67% of whom are now earning higher incomes from the sales of surpluses. Seventy six percent of these farmers are now using improved input technologies and agronomic practices, while 31% have sought formal financial services for credit. Additionally, through AGRA’s support to partner governments, national flagship agriculture programs and policy reforms have been finalized in 50%-75% less time.
Together with PIATA members, AGRA is broadening its focus to improve Africa’s food systems by addressing the challenges to sustainably link farmers to consumers. Coming out of the slowdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that all sectors are intertwined and shocks can affect everyone.
"It is the time to move forward and find ways to improve food systems; to support the pandemic recovery but also to get the world back on track for a better future for all," said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA president and special envoy to the U.N. Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).
Ahead of the UNFSS, and in recognition of the work that AGRA has done over the past 15 years, AgriLinks will showcase 10 articles highlighting how AGRA’s work has achieved the systemic change needed to spur agricultural transformation leading to increased incomes and improved food security for 30 million farmers.