New role for Kofi Annan in African ‘green revolution’

Posted by Alastair Otter on June 14, 2007
Posted in Green News

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, has undertaken to work to reverse the trend of deteriorating food security in Africa in his capacity as the first chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).

His appointment was announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town today.

“Africa is the only region where overall food security and livelihoods are deteriorating. We will reverse this trend by working to create an environmentally sustainable, uniquely African Green Revolution,” said Annan in an Agra press release.

“When our poorest farmers finally prosper, all of Africa will benefit.”

According to Agra, in the past 15 years the number of Africans living on less than $1 a day has increased by 50 percent and per capita food production has declined. In the past five years, the number of underweight children has risen by about 12 percent.

Most of Africa’s poor depend on farming for food and income, said the alliance. A root cause of the deepening poverty is the fact that millions of these small-scale farmers — the majority of them women working farms smaller than one hectare — cannot grow enough food to sustain even their own families.

Agra said it aims to help millions of small-scale farmers across Africa to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger through increases in farm productivity and incomes, while safeguarding the environment and biodiversity.

In a press release the alliance said that it is working with African crop scientists and small-scale farmers to use conventional breeding techniques to develop more productive and resilient varieties of the major food crops, as well as the means to distribute them. It is also supporting programmes that will increase the number of African agricultural scientists and programmes to monitor and evaluate its work.

It also plans to launch an initiative to improve the health of Africa’s soils, which are the most depleted in the world, as well as look at ways to improve water management, build more efficient agriculture markets and encourage policy reforms that support small-scale farmers and promote rural development and environmental sustainability, the press release said.

As chairman, Annan plans to travel regularly throughout Africa to meet with African farmers, entrepreneurs, scientists and political leaders to discuss and promote the work of the alliance, the press release said.

The Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa was established in 2006 with a $150-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

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