The African Development Bank returns as a top-tier partner of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) – Africa’s largest agriculture conference – to be held online for the first time from 8-11 September 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tenth annual AGRF will be headlined by African Heads of State and Government, and will bring together delegates from governments, civil society, the private sector and research communities. AGRF 2020 is hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the AGRF Partners Group, organized under the theme Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent. Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.
“As COVID-19 causes disruptions across Africa, we must prioritize policy support, especially for small and medium enterprises that produce, process and market 60% of food consumed on the continent,” said Wambui Gichuri, Bank Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “We need to enhance movement of inputs and food, increase production of and access to healthy and nutritious foods, establish food security task forces in countries, as well as strengthen regional organization capacity to monitor multi-country initiatives. AGRF is the platform to move these policy conversations forward.”
Acting Vice President Gichuri leads the Bank’s “digital delegation” to AGRF, which also includes Atsuko Toda, Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development; Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry; Esther Dassanou, Coordinator of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for the Women of Africa initiative (AFAWA), and Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth program. The Bank delegation will take part in nine AGRF sessions.
Gichuri is scheduled to deliver remarks during a nutrition-themed plenary: Building Back Better – Growing the Continent. This policy symposium held Wednesday (16:00 CAT) will discuss the UN’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the ongoing pandemic, and feeding the continent.
Director Toda will moderate a Bank-organized AGRF side event on Monday, 7 September (15:00 CAT). The session, Integrating African Food Systems through the Lens of SME Champions will amplify the voices of small and medium enterprises in the production, processing, logistics, and cold chain solutions sub-sectors.
“Feeding Africa’s growing population is not just about producing more food. It’s also about getting food to people who need it most. We support entrepreneurs along food system value chains helping to make that happen,” Toda said.
Fregene will be a panelist at an AGRF pre-event, Scaling Up, starting at 15:00 CAT on Monday, and he will speak during another pre-event session, Agriculture Technologies for Feeding Cities AGRF at 17:00 CAT on the same day.
Mpyisi will help judge the AGRF Agripreneur Competition Finale parallel session on Tuesday. The competition brings together young entrepreneurs, innovators and “movers and shakers” in Africa’s agri-food sector. Mpyisi will also serve as a panelist on the Strengthening the Ecosystem for Young African Agripreneurs session, which will look at action plans on how to better serve the needs of young agripreneurs.
AFAWA Coordinator Dassanou will join a panel of experts discussing Making the Most of Gender-Based Financing on Wednesday, 9 September. The session will home in on the methods needed to identify and fund women entrepreneurs who are part of the hidden middle that links farmers to the value-added processing, retailing and food service sectors in urban centers across the continent.
“Agriculture and strengthening food systems are cornerstones of Africa’s plan to build back better coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fregene. “AGRF online will convene the most senior decision-makers of governments in the same digital space as grassroots players along the agricultural value chain – we at the Bank are proud to be part of it,” said Fregene.