1 September 2010
Tackling the future of agriculture in Africa
The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) being held in Accra, Ghana from 2-4 September will be looking at ways in which Africa can unlock her agricultural growth potential - a sustainable "green revolution" for Africa.
AGRF is a public-private-sector initiative of which Standard Bank Group is one of the strategic partners. The forum brings together 250 leaders from African governments, local private sector, farming organisations, global enterprises, development agencies and world experts on agricultural development.
They will drive action in five areas: investment; policy environment; reducing the cost of finance; increasing agricultural productivity; and increasing financial returns to farmers.
Clive Tasker, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group's operations in Africa, says Standard Bank Group the rich soil of Africa holds the world's greatest potential to successfully address the pressing needs of global food security.
Land productivity on the continent is low by global standards and a decrease in real spending on agricultural extension has not helped. Increased involvement of multinational companies in agribusiness bodes well for agriculture on the land. About 40% of the world's reserve agricultural land is in Africa and therefore needs the expertise of organisations such as Standard Bank Group to turn that land into a tool to alleviate poverty and bring about food security and sustainable development on the continent.
Standard Bank Group has a long-standing commitment to developing agriculture in emerging markets and has demonstrated this through financing agricultural projects in Africa and other emerging markets such as Argentina, where it has a presence.
This commitment is further highlighted through its partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to promote agricultural growth on the continent through AGRA's investment in the provision of agricultural loans to small farmers in Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda and Tanzania by Standard Bank Group over three years.
AGRA, along with Yara International, The New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Rockefeller Foundation are also partners of the forum.
"At Standard Bank Group we take seriously our role as a facilitator of agricultural growth in Africa. We aim to demonstrate that to turn Africa into a bread basket - capable of sustaining itself through successful development initiatives, the private sector needs to roll up its sleeves and join the public sector as it works to build the agricultural capacity of the continent," says Mr Tasker.
History has taught us that it is public-private partnerships that can drive growth on the on the continent. Our partnerships with different players in the agricultural sector have allowed us not only to open up access to finance to small farmers in Africa, but also to facilitate skills transfer, mentorship and capacity building in terms of human resources, infrastructure and land development.
"For us, the forum is just another platform to engage with partners along the entire agricultural value chain in order to contribute to a better future for Africa's farmers and a better future for Africa," says Mr Tasker.
For more on Standard Bank Group's involvement in this sector, see www.standardbank.com/agriculture.