African Green Revolution Forum 2019 – Grow Digital:
Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa
3-6 September 2019 ~ Accra, Ghana
AGRF2019 offered a clarion call to action to leverage digital technologies to create a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs to deliver solutions to empower farmers increase their income while producing nutrition for a young continent as we all adapt to climate change. AGRF2019 was attended by more than 2400 delegates from 89 countries including high-level dignitaries all focused on how to dramatically accelerate efforts to use digital innovations to make farming in Africa more productive, profitable, sustainable and inclusive. Over three and a half days a series of new initiatives emerged that hold the potential to deliver new investments and major innovations in digital technologies and other areas that will animate the ambitious agenda established by Heads of State and Ministers of Agriculture.
Major announcements included the President of the Mastercard Foundation, Reeta Roy, announced a new US $500 million commitment within its Young Africa Works initiative, which will support efforts of young entrepreneurs across the continent to develop economic opportunities in agriculture. The World Bank reiterated a recent pledge to invest US $50 billion in Transforming Africa’s Digital Economy, as well as noted its plans to increase funding for food security initiatives by 25 percent relative to 2017 investments, for a total of $33 billion in funding over the next four years. However, President Gilbert Houngbo reminded the forum that there is a huge funding shortfall between the $115 billion that is needed for investment in agriculture annually to meet the zero hunger Sustainable Development Goal and the $10.5 billion invested in ODA to agriculture. In response, IFAD is partnering in several areas to scale up private agribusiness investment. Towards this, the Investment Center and Agribusiness Deal Room at AGRF 2019 were busy connecting agribusinesses and investment opportunities with critically needed capital. There were more than 250 scheduled meetings and close to 600 impromptu discussions in the formal Deal Room alone.
Having participated in AGRF2019 was a tremendous experience and opportunity to connect with policy makers, private sector, development organizations, investors and farmers. Two of the big themes were leveraging digital to make agriculture profitable and resilient against the backdrop of climate change. aWhere presented our contribution to AGRF by illustrating the power of our 290,000 virtual weather stations across Africa to empower farmers and policy makers achieve economic resilience to climate change. aWhere is providing weather data for the World Bank’s Ag Observatory and four African nations (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, and Ethiopia) but we can open this resource to all of Africa’s 63 million farms in a week for under 3 cents year per farm. We are biased to action and found several partners at AGRF2019 who can deliver data-driven solutions to farmers. We look forward to reporting back at AGRF2020 on how millions of farmers now have access to local weather data and decision support services in response to the clarion call of AGRF2019. Click here to read the AGRF2019 Communiqué.
Young entrepreneurs from across Africa competed by pitching their solution to empower farmers increase their profitability, productivity and resilience to realize a Green Revolution in Africa – ALL participants were winners by infusing digital tools and their enthusiasm into the AGRF.
The map to the right is a comparison of the number and coverage of publicly reporting stations (red) and aWhere stations (green) across Africa. Complete weather coverage to drive agriculture decisions is key to empowering farmers who often ask for three pieces of information – market prices, required inputs to increase productivity and the weather – the latter drives all three in Africa’s rainfed systems that operate on 95% of the agriculture land.