In a move that promises to transform the landscape of smallholder agriculture across Africa, the Commonwealth Secretariat and AGRA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This collaboration is set to harness the potential of digital innovations in agricultural practices, aiming to revolutionize food production and trade within the continent.
Digitalizing Agriculture: A Step Towards Sustainable Growth
The MoU focuses on leveraging a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) model to harmonize agricultural data systems at the national level. This initiative was unanimously supported during the recent Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting, highlighting the vital role of resilient DPIs in fostering intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
Fostering Collaboration and Capacity Building
The Commonwealth’s role under this MoU is pivotal. It will facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues on ‘National Agricultural Data Infrastructure (NAgDI)’ and assist in developing ‘National Digital Agriculture Strategies’ in selected African countries. This effort is part of a broader suite of strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing the management and utilization of agricultural data.
A Unified Vision at COP28
The MoU was signed at COP28, the UN climate change summit in Dubai, by Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA. In her address, Secretary-General Scotland praised AGRA’s achievements in Africa, emphasizing the need for data sovereignty and collaborative efforts to enhance agricultural practices.
Dr. Kalibata highlighted the partnership’s role in promoting food system transformation in Africa, focusing on sustainable, inclusive growth and resilience. This collaboration is expected to strengthen South-South cooperation in global dialogues on climate action, trade, investments, and digitization.
Empowering 21 African Member States
With 21 African member states in the Commonwealth, this MoU aims to deepen collaboration with AGRA, providing robust support to these nations and advancing knowledge sharing within the Commonwealth. This partnership marks a new phase in tackling significant agricultural challenges across Africa.
Commitment to Sustainable Development
The implementation plan within the MoU underlines a shared commitment to fostering sustainable development and growth on the continent. It addresses key challenges in agriculture, emphasizing the need for sustainable development approaches.
The Commonwealth’s Role in Food System Transformation
Aligned with the Commonwealth’s flagship programme on food system transformation, part of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda, this partnership seeks to advance the impact of digital innovations in African agriculture. It aims to create an enabling environment for digitalization, thereby enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of agricultural practices.
A Pioneering Step Forward
This MoU represents a significant step in the journey towards digitalizing agriculture in Africa. By combining the strengths and expertise of the Commonwealth and AGRA, this partnership is poised to bring about transformative changes in the agricultural sector, benefiting smallholder farmers and contributing to the economic growth and food security of the continent.
About the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda: The Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda is a policy-driven initiative aimed at enhancing the economic and social benefits of digital connectivity. It focuses on creating a more connected, inclusive, and prosperous Commonwealth by leveraging technology and innovation. This agenda plays a critical role in shaping the Commonwealth’s approach to digitalization in various sectors, including agriculture, trade, and investment.