Advancing Africa’s agricultural transformation

In early September the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) will bring together global and African leaders to evaluate the continent’s progress on the commitments of the Malabo Declaration and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and develop actionable strategies to transform the agricultural sector.

To effectively measure progress, identify gaps in development and replicate successful interventions, stakeholders working across the agricultural sector need a platform like the AGRF to share their experiences and learn from each other. Among the expected 2,000 participants, representatives of farmer organizations will demonstrate the transformative potential of technology and improved farming practices; public sector leaders will share their experience in delivering policies and targeted investments to advance jobs, food security and economic growth; and private sector entrepreneurs will showcase their innovations to open up sustainable market opportunities in Africa’s agricultural value chains.

Assessing progress towards a mechanized future

At the beginning of 2018, the African Union Commission (AUC) launched its Inaugural Biennial Review Report, which assessed the progress of member states on the implementation of the Malabo Declaration’s targets for accelerated agricultural growth and transformation. The report highlighted key lessons, such as the need to improve farmers’ and agribusiness owners’ access to financial and advisory services and allocated each country a score out of 10 depending on their progress towards achieving the targets. In an interview, Dr Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of the AUC Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture explained that, “The scorecard encourages heads of states and governments to look at the commitments they made in 2014 and review how they are performing. By encouraging this reflection, we believe that countries are more likely to increase investment in developing agriculture.”

To further encourage policymakers to make informed decisions and invest in strategies to support innovation in Africa’s agricultural sector, the Malabo Montpellier (MaMo) Panel recently published its latest report, Mechanized – Transforming Africa’s agriculture value chains. Drawing on successful case studies from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia, the report provides a roadmap for African governments to take concerted action to deliver on the growth and transformation targets set out by the Malabo Declaration and SDGs. “From the report we can see a lot of ways forward. It is a very good document that the African Union should take on board to assist its member countries and implement the mechanization program in Africa,” states H.E. Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Rwanda leads by example

The host of this year’s AGRF has set a strong example for the rest of the continent, both in terms of agricultural growth and investment in mechanization. Rwanda was recognized as having made the most progress towards the Malabo Declaration commitments in the AUC’s Biennial Review Report, achieving the top score of 6.1. The country’s high score reflects its encouraging agricultural growth rate, which increased by over 5% from 2005-2014 as a result of the government’s investment in agricultural mechanization since 2005. This positive trend is set to continue under Rwanda’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2013-2018), which commits the government to mechanizing 25% of farm operations.

Increasing farm mechanization in Rwanda is no easy task, with approximately 70% of farms located on hillsides and made up of less than 1 ha. But the challenge has not stifled government efforts; in February 2015 a new lease law that enables entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers to acquire farm machinery was passed under the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture Phase 3. Consequently, more than 33,500 ha of land have been mechanized and over 1,500 farmers and agronomists have been trained in new farming technology.

Guiding policy dialogue and decision making

It is estimated that a combination of mechanized power and animal power can increase farm productivity by up to 88% compared to the use of animal power alone. However, the potential of mechanization extends beyond the field along the entire value chain; from the transport and storage of produce to its processing and packaging, new technologies are increasing efficiency, adding value and creating jobs. To encourage decision makers at the AGRF to recognize this potential and invest in mechanization, the MaMo Panel will be hosting a number of high-profile experts in discussions on Unlocking opportunities for agricultural growth and transformation through mechanization along the value chain.

MaMo Panel’s presence at the AGRF will help to put mechanization at the top of the agenda of African governments and their partners to improve agricultural productivity and growth. To find out more about the event click here.