The plight of youth in the spotlight at the 2017 AGRF

The Seventh African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), under the theme “Accelerating the Path to Prosperity – Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture” was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 4-8 September 2017. The event which was attended by as many as 1,300 delegates, provided a premier platform for individuals to highlight their successes as well as for institutions to share their stories as they strive to drive significant progress across the continent for agricultural transformation and food security.

A number of high-profile dignitaries, such as presidents and former presidents of several African states like Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, graced the 2017 AGRF. The SACAU delegation comprised Dr Theo de Jager, the president; Mr Ishmael Sunga, the CEO; and Mr Benito Eliasi, the Capacity Development Advisor as well as Ms Ruramiso Mashumba and Ms Maness Nkhata, who represented the SACAU Young Farmer Ambassadors.

SACAU took part in four out of the more than 52 sessions that were held in various capacities, including that of organisers, key speakers, discussants and panellists.

The main areas covered in these sessions included youth employment, women in agribusiness, strengthening youths’ access to inputs, markets, financing and creating an enabling policy environment for youth participation in agriculture.

One of the highlights of the AGRF was the launch of the 2017 African Agriculture Status Report (AASR), titled “The Business of Smallholder Agriculture”, which, among others, stressed the importance of governments working with the “free market” to drive Africa’s economic growth from food production.

The report also emphasised the need to substitute imports with high value food produced in Africa for a market forecast to be worth more than US$1-trillion a year by 2030. Delegates at the event emphasised that for Africa to achieve agricultural transformation, new models and new ways of doing business in agriculture are required and highlighted the need for all partners in the agricultural sector to regularly track progress against the agreed action plans to ensure more partners are mobilised and resources accounted for.

The forum also considered how governments, businesses and other partners are delivering on the political, policy and financial commitments worth more than  US$30-billion made at the 2016 AGRF in Nairobi, Kenya, and the impact this is having on the lives and incomes of farmers and agribusinesses.

Commensurate with this, various organisations made commitments to promote agricultural transformation on the continent.

Among these were the European Union; German Federal Ministry of Economic Corporation and Development (BMZ); Yara; Rockefeller Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the African Union.