Royal Africa Society Annual Lecture: Transforming Africa's Role in the Global Security System
News Release | Strictly embargoed for 8:00 PM CET, Wednesday 30 March 2011
Kofi Annan: a smallholder farmer-led green revolution can banish hunger from Africa and help feed the world
London, United Kingdom – In a keynote speech today, former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Kofi Annan, will argue that a uniquely African, smallholder-led Green Revolution will mean Africa can banish hunger, tackle poverty and stimulate business growth – and help feed the world.
Speaking at the Royal African Society’s inaugural annual lecture, Mr. Annan will:
- Call for a uniquely African, genuinely smallholder-led green revolution that harnesses Africa’s “untapped” agricultural potential and helps the world meet the coming spike in demand for food.
- Argue that by supporting Africa’s farmers, we can take a major step to banishing hunger from the continent and helping meet future food needs across the world – with global demand for food set to grow by 50% in the next two decades.
- Set out the wider benefits an agricultural revolution will bring the continent: helping mitigate the impacts of climate change, tackle poverty, stimulate business growth and as the primary producers of Africa’s food, improve women’s position in society.
- Outline what African governments and international donors must do to achieve a green revolution: including promoting a ‘breadbasket’ strategy, increasing the volume of intra-regional trade, encouraging financial institutions to support agricultural enterprises, and directing development assistance towards improved agricultural technologies and know-how, giving particular attention to women.
Mr. Annan will say: “The planet’s population is forecast to grow from seven to nine billion in the next 40 years. We are likely to see global demand for food grow by 50% over the next two decades. Without a green revolution in Africa, without harnessing the massive agricultural potential within the continent, it is far from clear where and how this demand will be met.
“There is untapped potential within Africa for agricultural growth”. The continent is blessed with abundant land and natural resources. In comparison with India, it has twelve times as much land but less than two thirds of India’s population. Africa has some 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.”
“Smallholder farmers are the mainstay of African agriculture and they must be at the heart of Africa’s green revolution.” Even today, four out of five Africans depend on farming and related activities to provide for their families. That is why we need to put the emphasis on a genuine smallholder led green revolution.”
“By supporting Africa’s farmers, we can take a major step to banishing hunger from the continent and helping future food needs across the world. A uniquely African green revolution would also have a positive impact on the other challenges facing the continent. It will help reduce poverty, accelerate wider economic and social development, slow migration into Africa’s already over-crowded urban areas, boost women’s influence within their societies and provide new opportunities for business.”
“The challenges are great. But the prize – a prize within our grasp - is even bigger.”
A full copy of the speech is available at http://www.agra-alliance.org/ and at www.kofiannanfoundation.org. The Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, will introduce the speech.
For media inquiries related to AGRA or to request full copies of the speech, please contact:
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Kofi Annan served two terms, from 1997 to 2006, as UN Secretary-General. In 2001, Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Since leaving the United Nations, Kofi Annan has established a Foundation which aims to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer more secure world. Please visit: www.kofiannanfoundation.org.
AGRA is an Africa based organization working in partnership with governments, agricultural research organizations, farmers, private sector, civil society and other rural development stakeholders to significantly and sustainably improve the productivity and incomes of resource poor farmers in Africa. AGRA’s programs in the areas of seeds, soil health, market viability, supportive policies and innovative finance work to bring about transformational change across the agricultural value chain. Funded initially by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AGRA is chaired by Kofi Annan and has offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana.