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Africa | Kenya
Agriculture - Nutrition

Africa's green revolution needs sound policies

afrol News, 27 June - African governments have been urged to invest in rural infrastructure that will boost agriculture production by smallholder farmers in the continent. Top African policymakers meeting in Kenya this week, further called for appropriate policies if Africa was to achieve the green revolution and in eradicating poverty.

Convened under Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) more than 90 senior policy makers and leaders from private sector, academia, civil society and farmers organizations gathered early this week to identify priority policies and institutions needed to achieve a uniquely African Green Revolution.

The meeting addressed four critical areas of seed and fertilizer markets; finance and risk management; product markets, strategic grain reserves and regional trade; and land tenure, coupled with other social issues. It also discussed how to build capacity of African policy analysts and institutions that will support evidence-based policy development, calling on establishment of policy centers of excellence that would develop increased capacity in data collection, statistics and analysis, in close collaboration with African governments.

Such centers, as explained in the meeting, would provide African countries with sound policy frameworks and build trust in policy formulation.

"African governments will need better data and statistics to improve policy decision making. Ensuring that appropriate monitoring and evaluation systems are in place is critical for assessing the impacts of policies on agricultural productivity, food security, rural employment and rural income," Dr. Praghu Pingali, Head of Agricultural Policy and Statistics, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said.

The meeting further ruled-out practice of a one-size-fits-all type of policy for Africa, saying each country had its own unique and diverse agriculture system.

"The center of debate on policies for African agriculture needs to shift from Washington to Africa; and African countries, policy makers and stakeholders must lead the way," said Dr. Akin Adesina, AGRA's Vice President of Policy and Partnerships. "By building African policy development capacity, and working with the New Partnership for Africa's Development, we are laying the basis for sound evidence-based policies that will rapidly transform incentives for smallholder farmers, the great majority of whom are women working less than a hectare of land."

Echoeing the statement, Dr. Harris Mule, who also co-chaired the meeting added: "Capacity building to develop appropriate policies for the Green Revolution must be holistic, consider the entire value chain, and take a long-term view."

Among policies also recommended towards successfully realising a true Green Revolution for Africa, were, those that specifically target small-scale farmers and support market development at the very rural base.

The meeting also identified issues of access to credit, for high quality inputs and improved land tenure systems, especially for women, as crucial in new policy formulation, further adding that risk-mitigation policies, such as weather-indexed crop insurance, were needed, given projected negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture.

"Our goal is to end Africa's perpetual food crisis and to do so by mobilising political will and assisting countries in the development of policies that will enable Africa's smallholder farmers to grow exponentially more food and end hunger," said AGRA President Dr. Namanga Ngongi.

Representatives from 15 African countries, as well as others from Europe, United States and Asia, participated in the two-day meeting convened by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a partnership-based organization dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of Africa's small-scale farmers.

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