I welcome you all to Kigali, for the African Green Revolution Forum 2022.
Allow me to start by appreciating the leadership of my friend, Hailemariam Desalegn, for his critical role, as Africa’s ambassador for agricultural transformation.
I also would like to thank Dr Agnes Kalibata, and the entire AGRA team, for partnering with Rwanda to organize this summit.
When we met one year ago, it was on the eve of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.
Our continent put forward a strong Common African Position, which we have to build on, and deliver results on the ground.
Let’s remember what this work is really about.
It is about nutritious food on families’ tables, every day.
It is about more income in farmers’ bank accounts.
It is about growing agribusiness and creating new service jobs off the farm.
Above all, it is about ensuring that Africa is more resilient, in the face of unexpected shocks.
But we are off-track in achieving our agreed targets, under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) and the Malabo Declaration, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Covid pandemic, ongoing conflicts, and the global supply chain and energy crisis, are all placing unusual strain on our food systems.
A few lessons are clear, from our past experiences.
First, we are stronger together.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a good start, with huge potential.
We cannot have a coherent approach to agricultural transformation, without a close integration with Africa’s international trade policy.
We also need to make more investments in transport and storage infrastructure, and move faster to harmonize our tariff systems.
Second, those hardest hit from recent shocks, are local businesses and smallholder farmers.
Targeted support can make all the difference in keeping their businesses open.
Finally, investments made today, create resilience and new possibilities tomorrow.
For example, following the last food price crisis in 2008, Rwanda invested significantly in post-harvest management, among other measures to improve food security, and this paid off for us during the pandemic.
Beyond our continent, we have so much to gain from, and share with other regions.
Many are represented here today, from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Africa should not be struggling with food insecurity, given our natural endowments. We can feed ourselves, and even feed others.
This is an opportunity for us to work together, learn from each other, and advance home-grown solutions, tailored to our specific contexts.
For example, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting last May, Rwanda committed to co-lead and host the Food Action Alliance, a multi-stakeholder platform for public-private partnerships in food systems.
Ahead of COP-27 in Egypt later this year, we must also advocate for stronger commitments to reduce emissions, and drive action on adaptation and resilience, particularly in developing countries.
Allow me your excellencies, distinguished delegates, to conclude with a tribute to the outgoing Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee, President Olusegun Obasanjo.
President Obasanjo, my brother, friend, over the last six years, you have succeeded at raising the global profile and impact of the prize.
Your lifelong dedication to our continent’s development is an inspiration to all of us, and we thank you and honour you today.
As we track our progress, and hold each other accountable, let us learn from our successes and setbacks, to strengthen our efforts, going forward.
By transforming our food systems together, we will achieve, in a sustainable way, our ambitions for our people, planet, and our shared prosperity, as laid out in the 2030 Agenda.
Once again, I thank you all for being part of the solution, and I wish us all, a fruitful summit.
Thank you very much.