The 10th edition of the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali Rwanda, saw heads of state, government ministers, civil society, and business leaders resolve to use the flourishing urban food markets as a launchpad for growing the continent’s agricultural investments into stable businesses.
The AGRF, the world’s premier forum for advancing Africa’s agricultural agenda, drew a large and diverse crowd of more than 10,400 delegates from all over the world to analyze the state of African agriculture under the theme, Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent: Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.
The theme was a call to action to rethink Africa’s food systems in order to deliver a more resilient, better nourished, and more prosperous outcome for all. During the Forum, technical assessments, policy analyses and political discussions reached a new level of consensus that could accelerate the efforts to reach the goals in the Malabo Declaration, and make farming in Africa more productive, profitable, sustainable and inclusive.
Speaking in his closing Presidential Address, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, said: “Increasingly, African consumers live in cities. Our continent has the world’s fastest rates of urbanization and will continue to do so, for decades to come. The quality of that urbanization depends, in large part, on ensuring solid linkages between urban food markets and Africa’s rural producers… Agriculture is critical, and we must stay the course despite COVID19. We will need better collaboration on fiscal space, and we need to maximize the opportunities around technology, youth, gender and the AfCFTA.”
H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair, AGRF Partners Group, said: “We must do more to achieve the vision and goals we have set for ourselves”.
During the four-day summit, delegates explored innovative ways to streamline the continent’s agricultural value chains. Until now, traditional hurdles have made it hugely difficult for Africa’s farmers to sufficiently serve the rising urban food demand.
Agripreneurs, youth entrepreneurs and business leaders showcased innovative models, ready for investment and scaling, while scientists, researchers and thought leaders demonstrated ways in which policy amendments and innovative technology could lead to stronger agricultural value chains.
Meanwhile, public sector leaders shared their experience in delivering inclusive market-strengthening, policies and investments that stimulate strong food security plans across the continent. This is in a bid to leverage urban markets and drive a new era of innovative programs and investments for the benefit of Africa’s agricultural producers and consumers.
“As Africa’s economies advance and cities grow, we need to seize the moment and improve linkages to Africa’s largest producers – its millions of smallholder farmers- by investing more in urban food markets, coherence of food governance between cities and producers and food safety. These will enhance the competitiveness of our food industry, bolster regional food trade, and position Africa to be a better trade partner with the rest of the world,” Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA and Special Envoy to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, said.
She continued, “We must not relent in our effort to transform food systems for the benefit of everyone and build stronger, resilient and more sustainable food systems.”
Deliberations at the forum made it clear that coordinated efforts between players in the public and private sector actors can unlock the potential of Africa’s agricultural endeavors, leading to food sufficiency for all.
The event closed with an appeal for environmentally and commercially sustainable agricultural practices that quickly respond to emerging challenges such as Covid-19, climate change and locust invasions.
Highlights from this year’s summit included:
The launch of the 2020 Africa Agricultural Status Report, Feeding Africa’s Cities, assessing the opportunities, challenges and policies required to enable African farmers and agribusinesses serve the rapidly growing urban food markets.
The Agribusiness Deal Room this year, which drew around 208 businesses, 55 financial investors, 20 business development service providers and 54 anchor buyers, saw over 1,000 investment and partnership meetings take place. This is a space curated by AGRA and partners to nurture productive, business and investment partnerships in the African agri-food ecosystem.
The 2020 winners of the Africa Food Prize (AFP) and the GoGettaz Agripreneur Award were announced. Dr. Catherine Nakalembe and Dr. André Bationo shared the $100,000 Africa Food Prize for their exceptional contribution towards the promotion of food security across the continent.
This was the second time that the AGRF has taken place in Kigali, Rwanda after the successful event of 2018.