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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Help transform agric in Africa -Kofi Annan.

Mr Kofi Annan, former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, on Friday called for new commitment from African governments to help transform agriculture on the continent.
Mr Annan who was speaking at the opening of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, said experts estimate that Africa would need US$32 billion to US$39 billion annually to achieve the full economic potential of its farm sector.

Mr Annan told the AGRF delegates that Africa with a lower density of critical infrastructure than Asia needed a massive investment in the agriculture sector.

He said already about 19 countries on the continent had put in place plans to accelerate their annual agricultural growth by six per cent a year.

"This is the time to scale-up progress to achieve a uniquely African Green Revolution," said Mr Annan.

He said for the AGRF to succeed, funds must come from a combination of sources including African governments, overseas development assistance, foreign direct investment, philanthropic contributions from within and outside Africa and Africa's private sector.

He said the AGRF would promote investments and policy initiatives that would drive income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way.

"Let us leave this forum with the determination to transform smallholder farms into productive, profitable businesses and to help ensure an Africa, which is food and nutrition secured and prosperous. Let's get on with it."

He said AGRF would also show progress in unlocking Africa's agricultural potential and facilitating sustainable economic growth thanks to new investment and public-private partnerships, helping to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015.

Jorgen Ole Haslestad, Chief Executive of Yara International, said "I am convinced that we will achieve a lot in the next three days. We are optimistic that this forum will cement the alliance of public-private partnerships and strengthen the resolve to drive sustainable farming in Africa", he added.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, said the success of 21st century Africa would be defined by such efforts that were drawn up around agriculture and infrastructure in order to move crops and agricultural products from the land to existing and new markets.

He said Cooperation must also stretch from the highest levels of government and business to the farmers who toiled the fields.

He said the AGRF should work to provide the space for the participants to come up with concrete actions on how to fast-track this transformation agenda in Africa's agriculture.

"Through our collective efforts on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, we are supporting the transformation of African agriculture in order to reduce poverty and halt the marginalization of Africa in international markets" he said.

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