Africa seeks Green Revolution
October 3, 2012
At the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania, Syngenta Head of Business Development, Robert Berendes, joined former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and other heads of state, farmers, scientists and NGOs to discuss the roadmap for transforming African agriculture.
Continuing a dialogue that began at World Economic Forum (WEF) and the recent G8 meeting in May 2012, influential public and private sector gathered to promote investment and policy support to increase agricultural productivity and African farmer incomes.
Africa is part of the solution
In his opening speech, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan highlighted the enormous potential of African agriculture. “Africa is blessed with 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Plus there is huge potential to increase existing yields. Indeed, Africa is part of the solution. The continent can and must be part of the global food security system,” said Annan. He also stressed how important it is for African governments to put policies in place that increase public and private investment in sustainable agriculture. New crops and techniques are critical to boosting harvests and ensuring land can stay productive despite climate change, Annan added.
The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) focuses on promoting investments and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way. The forum is a private-sector led initiative which brings together various stakeholders to discuss and develop concrete investment plans for achieving the green revolution in Africa.
Investing in a big way to build scale
Syngenta Head of Business Development, Robert Berendes, joined a panel of experts looking at how innovative partnerships can accelerate investments by building on Africa’s success in synergy with existing initiatives such as Grow Africa. “Our engagement in Africa has dramatically increased over the past four or five years, and even more so in the past 12 months. We are connecting with … hundreds of thousands of smallholder growers,” Berendes pointed out. “Syngenta is here to build scale, so we are willing to invest in a big way.”
President Kikwete stressed the importance of the private sector as a catalyst for an African Green Revolution. He mentioned smallholders’ need for improved seeds, fertilizers as well as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Kikwete also applauded Syngenta’s efforts to support smallholders in Tanzania through the “Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania” (SAGCOT), a public-private partnership which aims to boost agricultural productivity in Tanzania. As co-founder of SAGCOT, Syngenta has co-developed a blueprint for how $2.1 billion of private investment will be catalyzed over a 20-year period, alongside public sector commitments of $1.3 billion.
Another step on the journey to African food security
For Syngenta, the AGRF forum is another element of its long-term commitment to boosting African agriculture sustainably. In May of 2012, CEO Mike Mack was one of the few private sector representatives officially invited to support the G8 Grow Africa initiative. This is a partnership platform that seeks to accelerate investments and transformative change in African agriculture based on national agricultural priorities. It supports the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), a Program of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), established by the African Union in 2003. At the G8 event, Mack revealed the company’s plans to make cumulative investments of more than $500 million and recruit and train more than 700 new employees. “We can bring the knowledge, tools, technology and services farmers need whatever the size of their field or the type of cropping system. Africa needs a fully integrated approach to crops because there is no single technology solution,” Mack said.