Kigali, 8 September 2018
I am happy to join you on this final day, of what has been a busy and productive week of meetings for all of you.
We are honoured to serve as host for the 8th African Green Revolution Forum, and I thank the organisers for choosing Rwanda as the venue.
Once again, you are most welcome, and we hope you will have time to visit some other parts of our country.
Agriculture is the cornerstone of Africa’s prosperity and of our children’s health and nutrition.
This sector is not only essential for survival, it drives everything else that we are trying to do, in terms of human and economic development.
The majority of Africans still earn their livelihood directly or indirectly from the land. Agriculture, therefore, deserves the concentrated attention of Africa’s policy-makers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
Fortunately, we know what works.
The knowledge, experience, and goodwill in evidence at this forum show that we have everything we need to succeed. It is up to us, working together, to drive the necessary change in our respective communities and organisations.
Allow me to share a quotation, from the late Professor Calestous Juma, a great African innovator and scholar, and also a friend to many of us, about the way forward:
Sustainable agriculture needs to be recognised as a knowledge-intensive, productive sector that is mainly carried out in the informal, private economy. The agricultural innovation system must link the public and private sectors and create close interactions among government, academia, business, and civil society.
Let me offer a few thoughts along those lines, about making African agriculture much more productive.
First, at the national level, we must cultivate the political and scientific leadership required, to create an enabling environment that will unleash the enormous potential of this sector.
Better coordination within governments is essential, and so are much stronger links among policy-makers, scientific researchers, financial institutions, and investors.
We have to make sure that Africa’s farmers are getting the most out of the many good partnerships that have already been set up in this ecosystem.
Second, revitalising agricultural extension services is urgent. We have to do a better job at mobilising citizen-farmers and treating them as clients.
They need the latest skills and services to increase their productivity and better manage risk.
This will also serve to make careers in agriculture more attractive to young people, and more profitable as well.
Third, the private sector is absolutely central.
Even as more African governments achieve the levels of public spending agreed in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), we know that most funding for agriculture is already coming from the private sector, not from government.
This is a significant trend, which will only continue to increase, thanks to the enormous new opportunities for trade in agricultural commodities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Fourth, we must sustain the continental commitment to measuring progress and results, using the African Agricultural Transformation Scorecard, which was successfully championed by former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was attended this forum earlier. We thank him.
This is an invaluable tool because it keeps up the pressure to deliver to citizens.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we require a rapid shift in the mindset of our young people towards agriculture as a career choice.
With the knowledge and technology available, there has never been a better time for young Africans to get involved in agriculture and agribusiness, and create wealth and well-being, for society as a whole.
Once again I welcome you and thank you very much for your kind attention.