Chairs' Summary

Optimism for African Agriculture and Food Systems

In November 2013, the African Union Commission (AUC) and Kofi Annan Foundation, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, convened a select group of distinguished leaders with a deep commitment to agricultural development in Africa to discuss Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems:  Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century.  Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AUC and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan chaired the high-level dialogue to reflect on successes and challenges in African agricultural development and engage African leaders in conversation about opportunities for concerted action. 

The meeting highlighted the needs of smallholder farmers, emerging transformations in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, the role of the private sector, and other forces of change in Africa. The dialogue was forward-looking and reflected a resolve among participants to help further the progress being seen and promote positive transformation through focused and coordinated leadership. The conversation reflected a commitment among participants to continue to prioritize agriculture and food security and a desire to increase concrete results and impacts. 

Recognizing the important work conducted to date, the discussion focused on ideas that could help harness the rich potential of Africa’s farmers and farming systems. It emphasized the importance of a successful course for the next generation of CAADP, taking into account the complexity of agriculture and food systems, the relationship between urbanization and rural development, institutional innovations for advancing African agricultural and food systems (e.g., establishing institutional mechanisms for coordination across ministries and sectors), and how agriculture ministries can build wider partnerships within and outside government to improve support for African farmers and ag-entrepreneurs.