Toward A Green Revolution in Africa?

Kofi-Annan-crop-3i30 April – 2 May 2008 Toward a ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa?” is an Initiative of the Salzburg Global Seminar, the Institute of Development Studies and the Future Agricultures Consortium. The Initiative, through a series of interconnected events, seeks to:

  • Enable proposals for a “green revolution” in sub-Saharan Africa to be tested and refined through deliberations between a wide range of experts, including those concerned by current directions, from different sectors and regions. This approach will help proponents of a “green revolution” to think it through carefully and from multiple perspectives, provide opportunity for constructive dialogue with critics, and ensure that efforts proceed within a broad policy framework, taking into account institutional, political, socio-economic, and technical prerequisites.

  • Better define a holistic development framework within which new investments in African agriculture can be positioned, streamlined with other new and existing development investments, and help stimulate further investments (monetary and other), ultimately reducing poverty and increasing sustainable economic growth and opportunity.

The Initiative was launched at a landmark conference, April 30 – May 2, 2008, at the Salzburg Global Seminar at which Kofi Annan provided the keynote speech.

Kofi Annan, the Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid recently kick started a process aimed at implementing a truly participatory and pro-poor African Green Revolution at a conference recently, organised by the Future Agricultures Consortium in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar.

There is a clear need for a new vision for agricultural development in Africa that can deal with the complexities of agriculture in diverse settings across Africa and meet the conditions necessary to achieve more equitable benefits for Africa’s farmers. The conference was asking

  • Whose vision should this be?
  • How can complexity and diversity be dealt with?
  • What can be learned from the impacts – positive and negative – of the “green revolutions” in Latin America and Asia?

The “Toward a ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa?” conference and subsequent seminar asked what lessons can be extracted from recent successes in African agricultural development and how can recent growth be sustained, expanded, and accelerated? How can new investments and actors in African agriculture support efforts to align policies and political processes to support agricultural as well as broader development goals? How can innovation systems be made robust, relevant and sustainable? How can the hardware of science and technology be linked to the software of institutions, policy and social dynamics? How should agricultural science and technology in Africa be governed?

Held at Austria’s famous Schloss Leopoldskron, the conference laid the groundwork for the broader initiative and goals described above by bringing together diverse stakeholders, from within Africa and beyond, who are experts in their areas. Around 90 participants from predominantly African government, business, academia, and non-governmental organisations explored a set of issues of vital concern to the future of agriculture in Africa, and to Africa’s development agenda.

The group devised the conceptual framework within which a new agricultural development agenda in Africa can be set and implemented, and recommended specific actions. A set of African regional meetings will follow the conference and seminar. These subsequent events will refine ideas and recommendations for policy adjustments, streamlining practice, and creating strategic alliances, finally leading to an action plan that is based both on the priority issues and grounded in the realities of the African context(s).

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