Farmer uses a power tiller to prepare a rice farm in Benue. Young farmers are behind a movement using small machines to reduce farm drudgery

African leaders and partners in the agriculture sector have validated the Feed Africa Strategy of the African Development Bank (AfDB) as a viable tool towards the transformation of agriculture on the continent.

President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire and his counterpart from Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, spoke of the AfDB’s initiative at the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Abidjan.

The AfDB is accelerating agricultural development through its Feed Africa Strategy with planned investment of US $24 billion over the next 10 years.

Outtara highlighted the disconnect between the 60 million population of Africans in agriculture and the paltry 16 percent contribution of the sector to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).

He, therefore, called on partners to fulfil the US $30 billion in commitments they made at AGRF 2016, stressing the need for more investment and focus on the sector.

At AGRF 2016, many of Africa’s steadfast champions of agriculture pledged more than US $30 billion in investments to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next 10 years.

The President of Côte d’Ivoire justified the need for greater emphasis on agriculture and expressed delight that agriculture was the number one priority on the Bank’s High 5s (AfDB’s development priorities to Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialize Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa).

Ouattara congratulated AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina for his achievements at the AfDB.

“When agriculture goes well, every other thing goes well. I would like to encourage other partners to join us,” Ouattara said.

On how agriculture could reduce poverty, the Head of State pointed to how Côte d’Ivoire had expanded the annual growth rate to 9% due largely to a new priority on agriculture since 2012. He then called for greater political will from African Governments and stronger international partnerships for agricultural transformation.

In her address, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stressed how important it is to turn agriculture around qualitatively and quantitatively.

Recalling how Africa missed the first green revolution, she emphasized the need to seize the moment and tackle food insecurity.

She applauded the AfDB for championing the responses and programmes that help in the actualization of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s objectives and was optimistic that such support would accelerate the actualization of the green revolution.

“We also know that the Feed Africa Strategy [of the AfDB] seeks to support African agriculture for the next 10 years into a competitive and inclusive agribusiness sector that will create wealth, improve yields and secure the environment. We believe that we should continue to strengthen the establishment of partnerships among the states, research institutions, banks, markets,” she said.

Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRF, noted that the body’s most significant stride is its ability to bring leaders on board − including governments and investors willing to discuss what to do differently in order to uplift agriculture.

“This year, we focused on how to galvanize smallholder farmers and how they can become the basis for creating jobs and food sufficient for Africa,” she said.

“We need to keep the momentum going. No better place to talk about making deals in Africa than Ivory Coast, which is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of agriculture products.”

She called for more urgency in ensuring food security for African people. She also highlighted why stakeholders should work hard to help the youth to become agripreneurs and grow Africa.

AGRF 2017 is focusing on ‘Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture’.

The goals of AfDB’s Feed Africa strategy are to help eliminate extreme poverty in Africa by 2025; end hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025; make Africa a net food exporter; and move Africa to the top of export-orientated global value chains where it has comparative advantage.