Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems

Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century

On 25-26 November 2013, the African Union Commission (AUC) and Kofi Annan Foundation, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, convened a select group of senior African leaders and distinguished guests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss steps necessary to sustain the momentum of the many positive transformations taking place in African agriculture and food systems. The event was planned and facilitated by Meridian Institute and Mandi Rukuni.

African agriculture and food systems are changing rapidly in positive and exciting ways. Africa has the agricultural potential to feed not only itself but also to grow a surplus and help provide global food security. However, fulfilling this potential requires efforts both from within and outside the continent. It requires a broad perspective – looking at the needs of smallholder farmers as part of food systems and supply chains and considering agricultural productivity, food security, and nutrition in the context of overall economic development and social stability. 

In support of the 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa and the 10th Anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the AUC and Kofi Annan Foundation convened Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems:  Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century.

Under the leadership of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AUC, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the high-level dialogue brought together visionary leaders from Africa and beyond that are recognized as champions of African agricultural development and actively engaged in advancing progress. The convening had the following objectives:

  • Identify opportunities to build upon the strengths of African institutions, including the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency, as leaders of change in the implementation of the CAADP framework and other actions to strengthen national and regional agricultural and food systems.
  • Discuss ways to catalyze action by governments to implement agricultural development commitments, develop and scale-up innovative mechanisms for progress, and secure additional funding and investment – including from the private sector.
  • Explore emerging challenges, including demographic shifts, population growth, climate change, and evolving dietary preferences.

The Chairs' Summary and an Executive Summary from this high-level event, Optimism for African Agriculture and Food Systemsbackground documents, and presentations from the convening are available for download.