Experts begin discussion on agric transformation in Africa

More than 2,300 global players along the agriculture value chain are converging on Accra today to discuss practical actions that will transform agriculture in Africa and help the continent harness the huge untapped opportunities.

The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2019 has convened past and present heads of states, ministers of agriculture, central bank governors, eminent leaders of global development institutions and mobile telecommunication network operators.

Top industry captains from the private sector, agripreneurs and other agriculture industry stakeholders are also  attending the four-day forum on the theme, “Grow digital: Leveraging digital transformation to drive sustainable food systems in Africa”

Discussions at the forum being held in the country for the second time in more than a decade, would focus on the impact of new technologies and innovative partnerships in unlocking the full potential of the continent’s agribusiness ventures.

The forum coincides with the first year anniversary of the demise of the late UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who was the founding chairperson of the AGRF.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, addressing a press launch in Accra yesterday said the forum would serve as a landmark opportunity for Ghana’s leaders and peers across the continent to mobilise billions of dollars in agribusiness investment.

Players in the financial sector would also discuss funding opportunities for those interested in leveraging on technologies to unlock the millions of dollars in the value chain.

“The AGRF19, together with its many follow-on activities, is designed to energise political will and advance the policies, programmes and investments required to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent,” he said.

A new feature for AGRF19 he said was the “Deal Room”, a transaction and deal making platform, designed to secure new business deals and commitments between agricultural companies, financiers and ecosystem partners.

“This will be a good opportunity for fundraising by early-stage agribusinesses, ultimately bringing African youth to the fore of sustainable agricultural development.

AGRF19 will also provide a platform for the crowd sourcing of ideas and to establish the necessary frameworks to ensure that plans are followed through”, the minister said.

At the end of the conference, Dr Akoto said a $100,000 Africa Food Prize would be awarded to a deserving individual or organisation in recognition of their role in shaping the continent’s agriculture agenda.

At the national level, he said the government was pursing an agricultural transformation agenda to make the country’s agricultural sector robust in terms of food security and job creation and achievement of international goals including the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and AGRF Secretariat said digitisation was the answer to the continent’s prayer for a tool for transformation in agriculture, adding that the continent must make the best of it.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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