BY JIMOH BABATUNDE with agency reports
Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)’s President Jane Karuku has revealed that for Africa to feed itself and help feed the world that three decisive actions in core areas must be addressed. President Jane Karuku said we must build new, innovative public-private partnerships; ensure international donors and African policymakers keep and fund their commitments and listen to what farmers really want and need. Speaking at the World Food Prize Symposium in the United States to discuss the need for public-private partnerships and new commitments to fund agricultural development, she said AGRA believes that in order to rapidly expand African agricultural yields and improve global economic growth that there is need to work creatively across sectors.
“AGRA has been working to establish small risk-sharing loans with several commercial 2banks in order to leverage more affordable credit for farmers and agribusinesses. “Together with our financial partners, we have made a total of $17 million US dollars available to three commercial banks, which leveraged access to about $160 million US dollars in credit to farmers and African businesspeople on the ground. She said their efforts demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach, which is now being taken up on a much larger scale by several African governments.
“The most successful partnerships are those in which everyone has put money on the table and is tangibly invested in a shared outcome. “Whether we are working with private-sector agribusinesses, small farmers, governments, or international NGOs, we know that in order to succeed, we must share skills and resources to move African agriculture forward. While asking that African governments and international donors be held accountable to keep and fund their commitments, she said Africa’s smallholder farmers deserve nothing less than concrete action.
“For far too long we have seen leaders pledge without paying. I am here today to call for the funds that have been committed in Africa and abroad to reach the farmers who need it most. “When the funds reach our fields, we must ensure they are invested across the full agricultural value chain – from better seeds and soils, to improved markets, more affordable financing and smarter policies.
We need to ensure balanced growth to transform subsistence farming into a viable commercial enterprise that will drive economic growth.” AGRA firmly believes that African farmers can lead the way to a stronger global economy. If we keep our commitments today, Africa will make a substantial contribution to global food security tomorrow. Jane Karuku said most importantly, that there is need to continue to listen to the voices of African farmers, just as she asked that there is need to deliver solutions that address the challenges and opportunities farmers face every day in the fields and marketplace. “Farmers also are looking to us for more options to grow Africa’s staple crops. We need to provide more robust varieties that can better withstand shifting weather patterns. But I don’t need to tell a room full of farmers from Iowa about the importance of growing drought-tolerant crops!”