Arusha — THE Chairperson of African Green Revolution, Dr Kofi Annan and the Co-Chairperson of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mrs Melinda Gates, kicked off their tour of Arusha region by visiting farms in Meru District.
Dr Annan who is also the former United Nations' Secretary General arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) on Tuesday night at around 8.00pm. Mrs Melinda Gates arrived earlier at 5.00pm. Both are key speakers in the ongoing three-day African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) being held in Arusha and which is set to address issues of global food security with AGRA working to turn Tanzania into the continent's bread basket through various green projects.
Their tour of Meru farms in Mbuguni ward aimed at learning how smallholder farmers in Tanzania are achieving in self-driven agricultural efforts and how this segment of growers can be transformed and guarantee food security on the continent whose population is now nearly one billion.
Already Morogoro region in central Tanzania is being upheld at the AGRF as a shining example of what small-scale farmers can achieve in production. Over 1,200 delegates are attending the forum.AGRA supports a number of agricultural initiatives in Tanzania, including the project to turn the country into a bread basket for the African continent according to the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Christopher Chiza.
The President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Ms Jane Karuku, stated here that Tanzania's recent agricultural growth
represents a case study of what can be possible."In the Kilombero district of Morogoro, the yields for maize have recently increased for some smallholder farmers from 1.5 to 4.5 tons per hectare; the yields for rice have increased from 2.5 to 6.5 tons per hectare," she pointed out.
Experts are of view that smallholder farmers' potential in holding the key to Africa's agricultural success is widely recognized and activists hope the forum will explore new ways to provide resources, overcome challenges and improve yields for the millions of farmers who are working on less than two hectares of land across the continent.
World leaders are now looking to African agriculture as the answer on how to adequately feed the continent as well as the entire world from African fields. At the recent G8 Summit, global leaders made new and bold commitments to unite the power of the public and private sectors, launching the next phase of the global food security effort.
"The approach is clear as we must invest in Africa's potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years," it was stated during the summit. The forum in Arusha carries on the global dialogue that began with the World Economic Forum on Africa and the G8 summit.
Putting smallholder farmers at the centre of the conversation, the forum will develop concrete action plans for developing Africa's agricultural sector. AGRF 2012 has brought together African heads of state, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, civil society and scientists, to discuss the right way to scale up investments and innovation for sustainable agricultural growth and food security.