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Kofi Annan 'I See the Green Revolution Happening across Africa Every Day': With the Right Focus and Sufficient Political Support, African Agriculture Can Be a Powerful Engine for Eradicating Poverty and Hunger, Boosting Economic Growth and Ensuring Sustainable Development, Writes Kofi Annan, the Former UN Secretary General and Currently the Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

Article excerpt

DURING MY LAST TERM AS UN secretary general, I launched an appeal for "a green revolution in Africa" in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 and eliminate poverty and hunger. Six years later, I see the green revolution happening across Africa every day. Farmers are receiving training and tools to help them grow more food. Seed breeders are using conventional breeding techniques to develop new crop varieties that flourish in Africa's unique environments.

Farmers are getting better access to fertilisers and other inputs to make their soil healthier and harvests better. And partnerships are being created across communities to provide farmers with access to credit, to agro-dealer networks and markets, and in support of government policies to develop the agricultural economy.

Upon leaving the UN, I accepted chairing the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) because I believed we needed a body to mobilise the transformation required to create a green revolution in Africa - a continent with not just diverse and fragmented agricultural systems, but a need for governments to adopt and align a new policy framework.

Global priorities have shifted and the depth of the economic crisis has made progress towards eradicating poverty and hunger--particularly in Africa--harder over the past few years. At the same time, our farmers are coping with the effects of climate change. But slow progress up a steep hill isn't the same as failure. If you look at Malawi, the country has been self-sufficient in maize for the past four years. And last year, it exported maize to Kenya.

My own country, Ghana is an example of the success that is possible and of a commitment to try new approaches. The government and its partners, including AGRA, are taking agricultural development to a new level. They are launching an ambitious effort to develop the north as a breadbasket for the country.

Turning this trend into a widespread revolution requires action at four levels: investing in breadbasket areas which have greater agricultural potential; expanding rural infrastructure; expanding regional trade by lowering tariffs and non-tariff barriers; and reducing risks associated with climate change--droughts and floods--through different adaptation mechanisms, including improved weather forecasting and promoting crop insurance schemes.

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Across Africa, smallholder farmers are leading the advance towards a greener, sustainable future, whereby the continent is able to feed itself, put an end to poverty and even make agriculture profitable.

AGRA will continue its policy of providing financial and moral support to Africa's smallholder farmers. They are the backbone of the "green revolution" and if we neglect one, ultimately we neglect them all.

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It is true that many smallholder farmers have faced challenging times but AGRA is working in conjunction with African governments, private investors and the international community to ensure that they get the resources and support they need. …