The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has announced that its new five year plan, which forms part of its transformational agenda for Africa’s agricultural sector, is targeting to improve the livelihoods of about 21 million smallholder farmers across Africa.
This renewed focus of AGRA looks at doubling the income levels of over nine (9) million smallholder farmers alone in West Africa through helping farmers to increase their yields and also facilitating access to markets and finance.
This development comes after AGRA just completed 10 years of existence, designed almost about some three decades ago, and successfully seeing to a number of programmes and activities geared towards improving the continent’s nascent agriculture sector. These included training of scientists, generating new technologies, boosting ‘agro-productivity’ among others.
The Regional Head of AGRA, West Africa, Mr. Fadel Ndiame, said the agricultural landscape and environment over the last 10 years has seen a lot of changes warranting a rethinking of their programmes and activities after a decade of operations.
Moving forward, he underlined that the just completed a five (5) year plan still continues to provide to trigger agriculture transformation, which means supporting agricultural development in a way that innovation and technologies can reach smallholder farmers.
It is seen that this will lead to increase the yields of smallholder farmers and subsequently double their income.
The emphasis of this plan is the integrated approach to bring all the elements needed by farmers across the continent to succeed instead of standalone programmes on seeds, soil among others.
He intimated that there is also a greater partnership with the private sector – a stronger public private partnership – given that this will help to reach large numbers of people as against only doing it with public institutions.
He explained that the development of ICTs and the role of media have now made it easier to share information and serve much wider constituency.
Ghana, along with some five other countries including Mali and Burkina Faso, in the Sub-region, are among the priority countries that has been selected under this new plan by AGRA.
‘These countries have been selected so that they can show to the rest of the continent how to put in place a successful agricultural transformation, in which governments plays it role of creating conducive environment while the private sector takes the lead in making investment and delivering the services.’
Mr. Fadel Ndiame, who said these in a chat with B&FT, at the backdrop of the fourth joint partners’ meeting of AGRA’s ‘Improved MSc in Cultivar Development Programme, in Kumasi, indicated that other countries in the eastern and southern Africa are part of the this new focus.
‘The lessons learnt from these countries, forexamnple like Ghana can be shared with other countries in Africa who share similar agro-ecology while also extending some of the technology breakthrough to them.’
An estimated $500.00 is expected to be invested by AGRA in this new five year plan for all the 11 countries involved. However, it is understood that a significant bulk of the investment of the entire initiative will come from governments and private sector.
The Joint Partners’ meeting in Ghana is the fourth meeting since the inception of the Improved MSc in Plant Breeding for Africa (IMCDA), and held annually during the life of the program.
The program promises to train up to 90 plant breeders using modern breeding technologies and who will have the practical ability to oversee the development of a breeding pipeline from start to finish with specific emphasis in cultivar development.
The program is being implemented in three universities – the University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana and Makerere University in Uganda.
It also has a component for internship with leading commercial and public sector breeding programs that will allow students to gain first-hand experience in seed production and marketing as well as appreciate real world challenges of managing a seed company.
The meeting in Kumasi was to offer stakeholders the opportunity to assess the progress of the roll-out of the program in the partner universities, discussing the challenges faced in the training of the first group of students and how these could be mitigated.
It is also expected to review the progress in the development of the e-curriculum and provide feedback on how this could be improved and made relevant to the African situation.