ENTERPRISE54 — After a few hectic days at the African Green Revolution Forum, I am more optimistic than ever that Africa is on the edge of enormous agricultural change. Most of my conversations in Addis had nothing to do with “development” problems, for example, but I heard plenty of excitement about the business opportunity. Africa’s productivity
ENTERPRISE54 — After a few hectic days at the African Green Revolution Forum, I am more optimistic than ever that Africa is on the edge of enormous agricultural change. Most of my conversations in Addis had nothing to do with “development” problems, for example, but I heard plenty of excitement about the business opportunity.
Africa’s productivity levels could easily double within five years and, as Akin Adesina, Nigeria’s agriculture minister, said, it simply does not make any sense that Africa spends US $35 billion each year on importing food. Africa has more than enough resources to feed itself and other regions of the world. And investors – both local and international – are clearly catching on. They might have profited from food imports once upon a time, but more and more are now investing in Africa’s agriculture itself.
Our four videos show African agricultural entrepreneurs – “agropreneurs” – from all over the continent, who have built businesses in mobile technology, chicken farming, aquaculture, andcoffee. In the process, they have earned extra income for their families and generated jobs for others. Scaling up these and other success stories, however, will require that amazing entrepreneurs such as Winnie, Susan, Mark and Omar are given the support they need, that the numerous obstacles are removed for them, especially if they are young.
Indeed, to paraphrase our Panel Member, Strive Masiyiwa (also Chair of AGRA), unlocking Africa’s entrepreneurial talent, especially among the continent’s dynamic youth, will be central to Africa’s agricultural sector. This revolution, when it comes, must benefit smallholder farmers too if it is to slow Africa’s otherwise accelerating inequality.
Political leaders carry enormous responsibility in this respect. Widespread malnutrition represents a terrible political failure. As our Panel Chair, Mr Annan, repeatedly noted at the Addis meeting, Africa’s political leaders have repeatedly promised to allocate more funds to their agricultural sectors. African farmers have heard the promises but – to paraphrase Mr Annan, also described at this meeting as “the Father of the Green Revolution” – the only promises to count are the ones that are kept .
Everybody will win when Africa’s agriculture is running at full speed, because all of us benefit from an Africa that is prosperous, stable, and fair.
Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel Caroline Kende-Robb.