Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
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Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is a partnership-driven institution that is African-led and farmer-centered. Founded in 2006, AGRA is transforming smallholder farming in Africa beyond the solitary struggle for survival, into thriving businesses. Its founding partners are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Rockefeller Foundation. For nearly 10 years, AGRA's work across 18 countries was focused on distinct problems related to seed production, soil health, and agriculture markets that were so profound and had been neglected for so long that they required a concentrated effort to resolve.
AGRA was formed in 2006 in response to a call from former UN Secretary-General The late Kofi Annan, who said the time had come for African farmers to wage a “uniquely African Green Revolution.” The late Kofi Annan was on its board of directors; various other members are internationally eminent in fields such as agriculture, policy management or planning and coordination, such as its president since 2014, Agnes Kalibata. AGRA recognizes the centrality of governments in driving Africa's transformation and works to strengthen country planning, coordination, implementation and accountability while supporting the development of an effective private sector through an enabling and regulatory environment.
With farmers at the center of all interventions, AGRA invests in building systems closer to the farm in order to drive productivity, access to markets, boost resilience and strengthen country and local private sector capability to scale systems and technologies. Typically, smallholder farmers in Africa are men and women who cultivate staple crops on farm sizes two hectares or less.
In the past decade, AGRA has been a strong voice for rural development, fostering a prosperous agricultural economy supporting thousands of farm-based businesses and 30 million African smallholder farming families in ways that ensure food security and improved livelihoods.
AGRA's partnerships align government priorities and private sector interest to improve the integration and coordination of investments and mobilize private sector investment to scale efforts.
The five-year strategy covering the period 2017 to 2020 seeks to catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation through integrated, country-based investment plans in 11 countries with a high potential for success. Actualizing the strategy involves a strong partnership of African governments, research institutions, development partners, the private sector and civil society
The continent's transformation will be achieved through innovation-driven and sustainable productivity increases as well as access to innovative finance and markets to achieve agriculture's potential as the reliable path to the continent's prosperity and the best option for youth employment creation.
In pursuing a uniquely African green revolution tailored to the needs and aspirations of a diverse continent, AGRA does not seek to replicate food production strategies from Asia, Latin America, or anywhere else in the world. This philosophy was well articulated by our Founding Chair, the late Kofi Annan in 2006 in a single statement; “We need a uniquely African green revolution tailored to the needs and aspirations of the diverse continent recognizing the importance of sustainability.”
We have noted some progress towards this goal. In our first decade, we worked with governments and partners in 18 countries to build the systems and tools necessary for the advancement of an inclusive agricultural transformation. The system includes a significant asset base of technologies, unique technical capabilities, knowledge and lessons learned, as well as local partnerships that will be leveraged in the new strategy to catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation through integrated, country-based investments.
As a result of this work, over 15 million farm families now have access to inputs, training, financing, and markets, enabling them to utilize their farms to generate better lives for their families. AGRA has also supported the establishment of thousands of local African agriculture businesses including nurturing 112 African seed companies that has multiplied local seed production from 2,000 metric tons in 2007 to close to 800,000 metric tons in 2017.
AGRA-funded work with plant scientists has generated over 650 new crop varieties with traits specifically selected for local growing conditions. Efforts to improve soil health have reached almost six million smallholder farmers and revived 1.6 million hectares of badly depleted croplands. Partnerships with farmers’ associations, financial institutions and small- and medium-sized African-owned agribusinesses have helped African farmers sell 750,000 metric tons of produce at a 10 to 50 percent price premium.
Most of these interventions and projects are implemented through local grantees and partners with a presence in the target communities and with the potential for delivery. Since inception, AGRA has awarded over 789 grants valued at about US$400 million.
From the onset, AGRA was set up to be the go-to partner for governments seeking to drive inclusive agricultural transformation. AGRA believes that it is the role of governments to transform Africa's agriculture and that all interventions should be guided by and aligned with government's priorities and vision for the agricultural sector. AGRA advocates for an integrated delivery approach across value chains through an ecosystem of partnerships that coordinate investments including public-private resources.
Over the years, we have worked with about two dozen public and private sector partners, both African and global, and we pay close attention to the cross-cutting themes of resilience, women's empowerment, youth empowerment and employment creation as well as capacity development. We pursue agriculture to create both on and off-farm employment for the youth to address unemployment and migration.
AGRA believes in the ability of the continent's human resource to drive the agricultural transformation agenda and has one of the largest pool of agricultural experts in Africa. Over 90% of these experts are Africans – the sons and daughters of farmers - representing about 24 different nationalities. The AGRA Board, chaired by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, comprises leaders from Africa and the globe, drawn from both the public and the private sector, with a passion for transforming the lives of the majority of Africans living in rural areas.
AGRA's stated goals (for 2021) are:
- To increase the incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.
- reducing food insecurity 50% in 20 countries
- ensuring that at least 15 countries are on a path toward sustainable and climate-friendly green agriculture
AGRA is an alliance led by Africans with roots in farming communities across the continent. African farmers need uniquely African solutions designed to meet their specific environmental and agricultural needs so they can sustainably boost production and gain access to rapidly growing agriculture markets.
All of AGRA's work is conducted through partnerships—with farmers, farmer organizations, community leaders, agricultural researchers, national and local governments, businesses, civil society groups, philanthropies, international organizations and donor countries.
- Development of disease-resistant strains of cassava. The genetically-engineered cassava are reportedly immune to cassava brown streak virus disease and the cassava common mosaic virus.
- PhD programs at universities in Ghana and South Africa
- "Strengthening Food Security: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)". Rockefeller Foundation. Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- "Agnes Kalibata to Receive Public Welfare Medal – Academy's Most Prestigious Award". National Academy of Sciences. January 28, 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
- Conway, Gordon (31 May 2011). "Global food crisis: Towards a 'doubly green' world". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- "Good news for cassava as new varieties to combat deadly viral diseases are officially released in Tanzania". Newstime Africa. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- Hultman, Tami (24 January 2012). "Africa: Aid Can Spur 'Historic Progress' - Bill Gates". AllAfrica. Retrieved 5 February 2012.