23 May 2012

Africa: Seed Improvement Gets G8 Backing

Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Frederic Courbet
Without addressing these root causes, however, food security will persist in Africa.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has been tasked by Group of Eight (G8) leaders to strengthen Africa's seed sector.

AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers

The alliance was given the key role during the just concluded G8 summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama at Camp David near Washington, where this year's G8 Summit of the world's largest economies took place.

AGRA will implement the initiative during the G8's next phase of a shared commitment to achieve global food security.

"The scaling seeds and other technologies partnership, part of the new initiative focused on increasing agricultural food production in Africa, will be housed at AGRA and will focus on strengthening Africa's seed sector," reads part of the statement released yesterday by AGRA.

Participants included the G8 leaders, four African heads of state and executives from the private sector.

"African food security will only be met by increased agricultural production," said Strive Masiyiwa, AGRA's Acting Chair addressing the G8 Summit.

"The approach being put forward by the G8 is modelled on some of AGRA's on-going work on behalf of Africa's smallholder farmers and we are pleased to play a major role in this global initiative."

AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

The alliance has invested in training African scientists who will develop research capacity, and strengthen the capacity of seed companies both technically and in terms of management capability.

According to Jane Karuku, AGRA President, the grouping is working with its main partners to create breadbaskets in Africa through giving support to smallholder farmers

"We are now seeing smallholder farmers prospering due to bigger crop yields and entire communities benefiting from the growth of small agribusinesses," she noted.

Through the support of AGRA and its partners, an additional 40,000 metric tons per annum of hybrid seed, representing one-third of the commercially produced seed in Africa, is now reaching smallholder farmers.

AGRA's experts believe that the tipping point to food security with respect to improved seeds is 500,000 metric tons per annum of high yielding, improved crop varieties.

In partnership with African governments and their central banks, as well as domestic and international banks, the alliance has pioneered innovative, risk sharing, finance schemes that have already allowed millions of smallholder farmers in six countries to access nearly one billion dollars in credit from their own banking systems for the first time.

AGRA works across 16 Sub-Saharan Africa and maintains offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana.

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