SACAU participated in the sixth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which was held from 5th to 9th September 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. SACAU is a co-organiser of the AGRF; a multi-stakeholder forum that brings together a diverse range of influential leaders and change agents from across the African agricultural landscape and around the world. An encouraging consideration at the forum was the emphasis on scaling up successes in order to transform African agriculture. This resonated well with the 2016 theme “Seize the Moment: Securing Africa’s Rise through Agricultural Transformation”.
One of the highlights for SACAU was the participation of the CEO, Mr Ishmael Sunga, at the Ministerial Roundtable where he shared some of the organisation’s commitments and how it is positioning itself in the agricultural transformation agenda. Commitments delivered by Mr Sunga were signing up half a million farmers per year on a digital platform to enable them to access value-added services and for them to aggregate and have the “muscle” to do business with others as well as signing up one million young business farmers on a virtual digital platform. This was over and above the establishment of a Development Fund which will make up to 20,000 agribusiness opportunities available for young farmers.
SACAU also co-hosted a side event titled “Data Revolution: Enabling Smallholder Farmers through ICT Innovations” which sought to understand when and how digital platforms can be relevant to smallholder farmers as well as to identify “do’s and don’ts” when establishing platforms for smallholder farmers. SACAU was also a speaker at this side-event and shared some of the experiences from work done in this area. Mr Sunga remarked that ICT is going to leapfrog Africa and pointed out the need to harness innovations to increase scale as one of the answers to the “double squeeze” of high inputs costs and low output prices that farmers, particularly smallholders, face. Some of the interesting points in the session were from Ms Sara Menker, Founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence; wherein she explained that Africa is now where the United States was in the 1930s, however with technology, Africa does not have to follow this trajectory. Mr Uziel Zontag, Co-founder/ Director of AgriLift Rwanda emphasised the importance of knowing the sizes of farmers’ plots and he noted that in Africa, more than 70% of farmers do not know the size of their plots. “We need to know what is grown in the plots. Agriculture is a spatial issue”, he said.
The 2016 AGRF which brought together more than 1500 delegates including global business leaders; African Heads of State; ministers; farmers organisations; private agribusiness firms, and financial institutions provided great networking opportunities. Through this, SACAU made good contacts, particularly around the application of ICT in agriculture, some of which have already translated into collaboration arrangements.
For decisions and commitments from the event, please refer to the AGRF communique here.