On Africa Day, we find that there is so much to celebrate Africa for. The continent is rich with diverse culture and abundant natural resources, including gold, diamonds, copper, crude oil, forests, rivers and so much more. However, the richest resource of my continent is its youth. Almost 60% of Africa’s population is aged below 25 with over 200 million youth living in sub-Saharan Africa. This active population has the potential to contribute massively to the food systems sector as about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land can be found on the continent. The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2017 also shows that more than 70% of the African population is in the agricultural sector. This and other factors have led many experts to conclude that agriculture is one of the key ways Africa can grow inclusive economies and create employment for the youth.
Emerging Ag Inc believes this too and sees great untapped potential for Africa to blossom and flourish economically through agriculture. Over time, we have collaborated on or developed exceptional programmes which have unearthed some of this potential on an international stage. Today, we share some of the success stories taking place right on the continent which we are privileged to be a part of.
Michigan State University Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legumes Systems Research recently carried out a survey on the value chain of Legumes in Africa with a focus on 10 countries in Western and Southern Africa. The Innovation Lab is a five-year research and capacity building program started in 2018 and funded by USAID. It focuses on grain legumes, including several important crops in Africa, such as cowpea. The Lab’s objective is to foster dynamic, profitable and environmentally sustainable approaches that contribute to resilience, productivity, better nutrition, and economic opportunities. The research, carried out in partnership with Emerging Ag and PABRA, aims to assist the Innovation Lab in developing a more comprehensive vision of how the cowpea, common bean, and pigeon pea systems work in West and Southern Africa. This will help underpin further research on how value chains in these crops can be improved to support better livelihoods, nutrition, and food security.
On March 4, 2021, Global Affairs Canada, the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada’s (CDF Canada), Fertilizer Canada and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) organised a virtual event to discuss the economic, environmental and social benefits of proper nutrient stewardship, with a focus on the benefits for women farmers. The 4R Solution project, supported by Canada’s fertilizer industry, is a science-based fertilizer management program that improve yields and profitability while increasing environmental sustainability. It is used extensively by Canadian farmers that can be equally adopted by smallholder farmers around the world. Speakers presented reports on the project from Ghana and Ethiopia which demonstrated that the initiative in Ethiopia could grow the global standard for farmer engagement by putting women first and advancing stewardship. In Ethiopia, the project has witnessed increased women representation in leadership positions (46% women leaders in cooperatives and saccos) since its inception. In Ghana, over 500 farmers are reportedly anticipating the adoption of the 4R principles in the coming season due to the success of previous years.
Currently, we are supporting the government of Kenya to organise a series of sub-national and national dialogues as part of the country’s preparation for the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021. The first Kenya Food Systems Summit Dialogue was organized on May 20 and five more sub-national dialogues are expected in the following weeks culminating in a major national dialogue at the end of June. The dialogue series is bringing together stakeholders in the agriculture and agri-food industry in order to identify and develop national pathways towards sustainable food systems. The May 20 dialogue was a great success with many key issues discussed including the enhancement of partnerships to address food security and nutrition.
As communication experts with a niche in agriculture, we are excited about Africa’s prospects and look forward to greater partnerships in more projects on the continent. Having worked closely with AGRA in the organisation of the virtual Africa Green Revolution Forum 2020 hosted by the government of Rwanda, we are all too aware of the impact agriculture can make in Africa if given the right attention, investment and support. As we celebrate Africa Day, we look forward to cultivating an enabling environment for agriculture in Africa to thrive. Together, let us grow the Africa we want through food and agriculture.