2020 AGRF Virtual Summit: A call to action to use Africa’s strength to transform agriculture in COVID-19 era

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The 2020 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) has been held in Kigali, Rwanda under the theme, “Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent: Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.”

It was co-hosted by the AGRF Partners Group and the Government of Rwanda, under the leadership of Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda.

The purpose of the AGRF 2020 summit, like previous events, brought people together to transform agriculture, raise productivity for farmers and increase incomes – for smallholder farmers especially; an agenda that is more relevant at this time when the world is facing economic and health challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The driving force was the realization that Africa can only transform with African solutions, African energies and partnerships across the continent and the world.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGRF 2020 summit was conducted in a hybrid format, partially online and at the Kigali Convention Center, Rwanda. The four-day summit spanning-September 8-11, 2020 registered the largest ever attendance in its ten years history, with over 10,400 delegates and 320 speakers from 113 countries. It also had the most active social media engagement recording 450 Million impressions, up 64% on last year’s event.

Delegates comprising heads of state, government officials, political leaders, members of the civil society, private sector players, scientists and farmers engaged one another in discussions on how to leverage the growing urban demand to design flourishing agricultural food systems that are resilient and can withstand shocks, such as COVID-19, climate change and locust and pest invasions.

Among the distinguished delegates at this year’s event were current and former presidents and heads of government, ministers, governors, mayors and leaders of international agencies, including the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU).

Addressing delegates, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and a member of the AGRF Partners Group, said: “We must not relent in our effort to transform food systems for the benefit of everyone and build stronger, resilient and more sustainable food systems.”

Highlights of the summit were the launch of the 2020 African Agricultural Status Report, titled: Feeding Africa’s Cities Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies for Linking African Farmers with Growing Urban Food Markets; the Agribusiness Deal Room, a matchmaking platform that registered 3,611 delegates from 91 countries and gave 208 businesses, 55 financial investors, 20 business development service providers and 54 anchor buyers the opportunity to explore a wide range of investment opportunities valued at  over US$ 4.7 Billion; a Youth Town Hall session during which H.E. President Paul Kagame challenged the youth to take charge of the continent’s agricultural plans and strategies saying that the youth are best-placed to lead the agricultural revolution that will drive Africa to a season of food security and economic rejuvenation.

Also featured at the summit were a Farmers Forum which held discussions around sustainability plans and strategies for overcoming recent challenges and increasing resilience in agriculture; and a Ministerial Roundtable which took stock of where the continent is in regards to policy reforms, partnerships, and financing towards achieving the 2025 Malabo Declaration target of ending hunger in Africa.

The AGRF 2020 summit saw the joint award of the Africa Food Prize 2020 to Dr. Catherine Nakaleme, a Ugandan Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maryland for her capacity developing efforts to strengthen food security in Africa and beyond and Dr. André Bationo, a Researcher from Burkina Faso for his efforts in the improvement of micro-dosing fertilizer technology. The award winners were lauded by H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria and Chair, Africa Food Prize Committee for their outstanding achievements which demonstrate what can be done and what must be done to transform agriculture across the continent.

Following on the heels of the AFP was the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize finale which saw 12 young entrepreneurs compete for the $100,000 prize.

The award was won by Tanzanian Daniella Kwayu of Phema Agri and Rwandese Moses Katala of Magofarm, who each received a $50,000 cash prize to grow their businesses. Other winners in the competition were Millicent Agidipo (Achiever Foods, Ghana), Elizabeth Gikebe (Mhogo Foods, Kenya), Dysmys Kisilu (Solar Freeze, Kenya) and Paul Matove (Vertical and Micro-Gardening, Uganda) who all won GoGettaz Impact Award, which came with a $2500 cash prize.

A Presidential Summit held on the last day of the event was addressed by H.E. President Paul Kagame. President Kagame summed up all the resolutions of the AGRF week into one accord and said, “We all need to take individual and collective responsibility to do what we need to do. The pathway to delivery is clear.” On the panel were H.E. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group and H.E. Moussa Faki, the Chairperson of the AU Commission. They all recognized that the time had arrived for all to act on Africa’s potential for self-sufficient food systems.

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