Over the last decade, millions of small family farms in Africa have experience big changes. These farms are the continent’s main source of food, employment, and income. Many African governments have put agriculture back to the top of the development agenda, and from a growing revenue base, they have increased the proportion of their national budgets going to this vital sector. Private companies have invested heavily in Africa’s agriculture value chains in recent years, paving the way for a renaissance in Africa’s agri-food systems that multiplies the options for farmers in terms of the seeds they plant, the fertilizers they use, the markets they can now tap into, and the information services now available to help them manage their farming activities. Agricultural growth in Africa has also expanded livelihood opportunities for millions of people now engaged in the growing off-farm stages of the agri-food system.Offering a glimpse of future success, these advances have helped inspire a new vision for Africa, one in which farming realizes its potential to help make the continent sustainable and hunger free.
Much more must be done, however, to sustain and deepen the agricultural transformation process that has started in Africa, as laid out in the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The continent is still faced with many challenges such as food insecurity, emerging effects of climate change and rampant land degradation make these challenges especially daunting particularly as rapid population growth and rising urbanization increase the pressure on agriculture to deliver more and better food. But each of these challenges also represents an opportunity to strengthen agriculture, turning it into a multiplier of inclusive economic growth. My hope is that this incisive new report on recent progress—from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and its partners—will stimulate a more profound and impassioned debate about the kinds of future investments and other measures that are needed to make the transformation of this sector a reality. While acknowledging the progress that many countries have made toward this end, especially the ones that were quick to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program, the report minces no words about how much farther these countries and others have to go.
This message is especially important for the many countries of sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture remains the predominant sector of the economy, accounting for 25 percent or more of gross domestic product (GDP). A key issue for these countries, one that is hotly contested in recent years, is what strategies are most appropriate for their agricultural development. Some have questioned whether it is possible to achieve a Green Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa based largely on dramatic increases in grain yields. What we have learned together over the last 10 years is that production is one piece of the puzzle. Farmers across Africa need better access to finance, markets, and an enabling policy environment that affords them the social protections many of us across the world take for granted.
As the first President of AGRA, and the current chairman of the Board of Trustees of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), I have personal experience and greatly value AGRA´s determination to keep smallholders at the center of Africa´s agricultural transformation and to create the conditions that are essential for these farmers to thrive. I urge AGRA to maintain its commitment and work with African governments and institutions, and the private sector to forge the partnerships that are necessary to achieve food security in Africa.
Dr. Amos Namanga Ngongi,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership