In a landscape where food security remains one of the most pressing issues, AGRA, is about to hold its annual Africa Food Systems Summit. The objective is clear: to foster partnerships that aim to enhance agricultural yields, income, and food security across the continent. However, the recent criticisms from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) necessitate a closer look at the organization’s grievances and an exploration of why the AGRF Summit is an essential initiative.
External Funding: A Vehicle for Innovation
AFSA’s claim that AGRA’s external funding makes it unaccountable to African governments and people overlooks the reality of resource constraints. External funding enables the summit to bring together the brightest minds in agribusiness, policy-making, and technology. It allows for an exchange of ideas and innovations that might not otherwise occur, precisely because these external entities have the resources to facilitate such a large-scale event.
Corporate Involvement: A Catalyst for Change
AFSA criticizes AGRA’s corporate involvement, but this involvement allows for technological advances that could bring about a second Green Revolution — this time for Africa. Corporations bring funding and a wealth of expertise in technology and supply chain logistics, which are vital for agricultural transformation.
Inclusive Development: Larger Yields, Larger Impact
AFSA has disparaged AGRA’s effectiveness, citing unmet goals and unfulfilled promises. However, AGRA has indeed had an impact. As with any large-scale initiative, change takes time, and the fruits of many projects are long-term. By fostering technological adoption and encouraging modern farming techniques, AGRA aims for a more sustainable and efficient food production system that would eventually benefit the smallholder farmers that AFSA claims to represent.
Policy Influence: Necessary for Widespread Adoption
AFSA claims AGRA’s influence over African governmental policies is inappropriate, but any significant change in agricultural practices will require policy adjustments. Those adjustments will, by necessity, favor new technologies and farming practices that have been demonstrated to increase yields and improve food security.
Empowering Women: More Than Just Words
Lastly, AFSA suggests that AGRA’s approach does not genuinely center women, which contradicts AGRA’s ongoing efforts to incorporate gender perspectives in agricultural strategies. By creating forums that discuss women’s involvement in agriculture and spotlighting successful women farmers, the AGRF Summit actively engages with the gender issue, going beyond mere lip service.
A Partnership for Progress
While AFSA’s concerns stem from a place of advocacy, it is crucial to view the AGRF Summit as what it truly is: a partnership platform aimed at tangible progress. The summit brings to the table a diverse set of stakeholders who have the resources, the technological know-how, and the global perspective necessary to make a lasting impact on Africa’s agriculture. In the pursuit of food security and agricultural advancement, rejecting such a confluence of resources and expertise is a luxury that neither Africa nor the world can afford.
For these reasons, Kilimokwanza.org strongly supports the AGRF Summit. It is a necessary and timely initiative that promises to catalyze a new era of food security and agricultural prosperity in Africa. Let us not let division hinder our shared goals; instead, let’s use this opportunity to unite for a better, more sustainable future for all.