More than Sh6 trillion was pledged for investment in agriculture at the African Green Revolution Forum 2016 in Nairobi today.
The pledges came after President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged African governments and the private sector to invest massively in agriculture if Africa is to make meaningful progress.
President Kenyatta said Africa is capable of investing more than $400 billion in agriculture through government and private sector funding over the next five years.
The President started by announcing that the Kenya Government committed to spend Sh20 billion to support 150, 000 young farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs to gain access to markets, finance and insurance, improving access to modern machinery and other agriculture technology, and increasing value addition and agro-processing in Kenya.
The President said this when he officially opened the three-day forum at the United Nations Headquarters, Gigiri, Nairobi, where he was also joined by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The forum, whose theme is ‘Securing Africa’s Rise Through Agricultural Transformation’ brings together policy makers and other stakeholders in African agriculture to share their experience and expertise to make the sector progress.
“We all committed to the goal of increasing financing for agriculture. Today, let us make that commitment specific. I propose we pledge to mobilise at least $400 billion of public and private sector investment over the next five years. With goodwill and partnership, this is more than possible,” said President Kenyatta.
The pledges of trillions targeted at agricultural financing, that came after President Kenyatta’s challenge, came from among others a pledge by Econet Wireless chairman Strive Masiyiwa pledging to invest more than $30 billion (Sh3 trillion) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) which pledged $2.4 billion (Sh240 billion) each year for the next 10 years which translates to $24 billion (Sh2.4 trillion). AfDB has previously been allocating $600 million for agricultural financing.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations that pledged $5 billion (Sh500 billion).
The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) pledged $350 million (Sh35 billion) and the Rockefeller Foundation pledged $180 million (Sh18 billion).
The World Food Program (WFP) pledged $120 million (Sh12 billion) to cater for countries including Kenya while OCP Africa pledged $30 million (Sh3 billion).
Rockefeller Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also gave a pledge to fund the operational cost of the African Green Revolution Forum for the next five years.
President Kenyatta also called for integration of Africa’s agriculture policies because without unity no one country or region can make progress.
“It is clear that without integrating our shared continental vision into our respective domestic policies, we will not only hold back one another, more significantly, we will keep our citizens from experiencing a range of benefits,” said the President.
He called for streamlining of national plans and strategies so that they align with the 2014 Malabo commitments which agreed on a comprehensive development of African agriculture.
“Together, we outlined a bold and daring vision for our Continent. Now, we must take bold actions to give effect to our shared dream,” said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State also noted that Africa is witnessing greater involvement in agriculture by its private sector.
He said with the rise of agri-business initiatives, governments are paying attention to the policy needs of the agricultural sector and farmers as a whole.
“Our progress is a partial fulfilment of our continent’s potential, and of the past promises we have made as leaders of this great Continent,” he said.
He said agriculture is too important in Africa to be ignored since hundreds of millions of men and women depend on agriculture to eke out a living.
“But agriculture also provides an avenue for all our nations to open up opportunities for decent jobs, and dignified lives to millions of African youth,” added the President.
After the official opening ceremony President Kenyatta, President Kagame and the African Union Commissioner for agriculture Rhoda Peace Tumusime chaired a panel discussion where they fielded questions.
The two Presidents said technology has to be utilised in agriculture in order to attract the youth to the sector.
Ms Tumusime urged African governments to implement commitments and pledges they have made previously to transform agriculture in Africa.
They said the sector will create more job opportunities if technology is used as a tool in transforming the sector and making it a business venture rather than a subsistence activity.
Other speakers at the forum included the Chairman of Econet Wireless Strive Masiyiwa.
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