More than $60 billion (Sh6 trillion) in financial pledges at the sixth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is expected to transform African nations from net importers of agricultural products to exporters.
The pledges were inspired by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s challenge for commitment to an agriculture revolution even as he promised to deliver on both the political and policy agenda. He disclosed that his government will invest $200 million (Sh20 billion) to enable 150,000 young farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs to access markets, finance, and insurance.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $5 billion (Sh500 billion) and also promised to fund operations cost of the African Green Revolution Forum for the next five years.
The foundation said it will also use the funds to continue expanding crop and livestock research, strengthen data that will be used in decision-making, and improve systems to deliver better tools, information and innovation to farmers.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) promised to inject $2.4 billion (Sh240 billion) in the sector annually for the next 10 years, translating to $24 billion (Sh2.4 trillion). AfDB has previously allocated $600 million (Sh60 billion) for agricultural financing.
Econet Wireless chairman Strive Masiyiwa pledged to invest $35 billion (Sh3.5 trillion), while the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) committed $350 million (Sh35 billion) to the sector. Rockefeller Foundation pledged another $180 million (Sh18 billion).
The World Food Program (WFP) promised to provide $120 million (Sh12 billion) which will benefit several countries including Kenya while OCP Africa pledged $30 million (Sh3 billion).
The financial commitments from leaders, businesses and international donors, considered one of the broadest alliance to ever pledge to boost food production in Africa, points at the rise of agribusiness initiatives as governments pay more attention to the agricultural sector and farmers.
Some 1,500 influencers from 40 countries attending the forum agreed that agriculture is too important for the continent to be ignored, not only because hundreds of millions of people depend on it to eke out a living, but also for its role in enhancing food security and job creation.
To boost interest among the youth who constitute 60 per cent of the population, President Kenyatta and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda urged Africa to leverage on technology to attract more youths to the sector.
During the event Dr Kanayo Nwanze, President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize for bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all.