Focused on engaging the private sector in funding agricultural development, this initiative presents a new opportunity to find practical solutions to the devastating food crises that still plague Africa.
We have achieved common consensus on what needs to be done – what smallholder farmers in Ghana and the rest of the continent need: supportive policies, better seeds, access to finance, fertilizers, skills development and extension services, national research systems, and market infrastructure.
Early results, based on AGRA’s efforts to meet these needs over the last five years, are very encouraging.
Due to the collective efforts of African governments, the global donor community including the G8, research institutions, the private sector, farmers’ organizations and NGOs, we have seen remarkable progress – but now we must redouble our efforts.
At L’Aquila G8 countries stepped up, following Camp David they must scale up, speed up and invest up.
We are at a critical turning point. To make the most of recent momentum, G8 leaders, African governments and the private sector need to take the following steps to deliver lasting food-security solutions.
First G8 countries, African governments and the private sector need to put in place measures to ensure money is effectively dispersed.
Multi-billion dollar commitments hold great promise, but only if they reach the farmers, researchers, agro-dealers, extension workers and others who are building Africa’s agricultural economy. Realistic pledges with meaningful accountability are absolutely necessary.
Second, international and African governments need to build structures that funnel funds to agriculture’s private sector economic development.
Given the private-sector focus of the new initiative, it is critically important to scale up mechanisms, such as the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), that permit funding through the private sector or other non-state actors such as AGRA and farmers’ organizations.
Currently, funding continues to be channeled almost exclusively through public institutions. We need to provide support that will enable investment to go where it is most likely to be used properly and profitably within Africa’s private sector.
Third, we must listen to the smallholder farmer and small agri-business owners across Africa.
They are the experts, tirelessly working to move the continent forward. They will tell us what they need on the ground to be successful.
AGRA supports an approach that is coordinated globally, but is African led and focused on smallholder farmers.
This approach must be equitable, transparent and accountable to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
As the dust settles on the recent G8 Summit, I hope the leaders AGRA met at Camp David and those we continue to meet across the continent will fund their commitments and take the bold action necessary to feed future generations.
*The writer is President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa*