News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AGRA-ILRI international conference clarifies priority actions needed to develop markets for African smallholders

A major international conference, held 13–15 May 2009 in Nairobi, brought together 150 of the world’s and Africa’s leading scholars and development experts to clarify priority actions that must be taken to unleash the potential of the continent’s smallholder agricultural sector.

The conference was sponsored by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AGRA's Vice President for Policy and Partnerships, makes his opening remarks. ILRI's Markets Theme Director, Steve Staal, is seated second left. Kenya's Agriculture Minister, Hon. William Ruto, is seated far right.

The tone for the conference was set by Kenya’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable William Ruto, who opened the meeting by challenging the group to identify and prioritize concrete actions that will, over time, lead to more efficient and effective markets that bring benefits both to producers and consumers across Africa.

The ensuing and often lively debate and discussions led to a number of key conference outcomes that will be made widely available in the near future.

Conference participants comprised a wide range of representatives from all along (and beyond) the African agricultural value chain.

Ravi Prabhu facilitates one of the discussions. Ravi is the Coordinator of the CGIAR Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Alliance of the CGIAR centres.

Intergovernmental and sub-regional bodies in Africa, including NEPAD, CAADP, COMESA and ASARECA, served as featured speakers and participated in panel discussions and numerous parallel working sessions.

International funding agencies, including the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank contributed early and often to conference discussions.

The UN World Food Programme, along with a wide range of private/public sector organizations – including bankers, agro-dealers, seed companies, grain councils, national commodity exchanges and farmers associations – were vital contributors to shaping the debate.

Representatives from leading universities dealing with market development issues, such as Cornell University, the University of Colombia, Michigan State University, the University of Leuven, the University of Zambia and Montpellier University, shared results from recent market research done by them and others in academia.

And a number of CGIAR and affiliated organizations, including ILRI, CIAT-TSBF, CIMMYT, IFPRI, ICRISAT, IITA, ICRAF and IFDC contributed their experience and perspectives on the issues being discussed.

In closing the conference, AGRA President Dr Namanga Ngongi, stressed the importance of bringing together such a diverse group of development specialists to clarify what needs to be done next, when and by whom in order to develop Africa’s local, national and regional markets.

Concrete actions that will promote the ability of these markets to absorb the fruits of smallholder productivity increases are essential, Dr Ngongi noted.

The right actions by key players involved in building markets across the continent will reinforce the growing momentum for a uniquely African Green Revolution and, in so doing, help increase food security and reduce poverty for millions.

For more information, please visit the conference website

Meeting of the minds: Participants at the AGRA-ILRI Conference "Towards priority actions for market development for African farmers"

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