Posted by: APO | 5 May 2008

Towards a “Green Revolution” in Africa? / Transcript of press conference / Kofi ANNAN

Towards a “Green Revolution” in Africa?

Transcript of press conference


May 2nd, 2008


“Towards a ‘Green Revolution’ in Africa?” is an Initiative of the Salzburg Global Seminar

(, the Institute of Development Studies (, and the Future

Agricultures Consortium ( The following is the transcript of a press

conference held at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria on Friday, May 2. The press

conference was held in conjunction with the above-named event which gathered agricultural and

economic experts to explore new opportunities and critical challenges to fostering a ‘uniquely

African Green Revolution.’

Edward MORTIMER: I am Edward Mortimer the vice president of the Salzburg Global

Seminar, and we are speaking to you from Salzburg in Austria, and we have a panel of

speakers at this remote press conference, in that I will ask them to introduce themselves,

starting with Kofi Annan who probably needs no introduction but he is, amongst other

things, the chairman of the Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa, AGRA. Mr. Annan.

Kofi ANNAN: I think I have already been introduced as Kofi Annan, the chairman of

AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

Akin ADESINA: My name is Akin Adesina. I am the vice president of the Alliance for a

Green Revolution in Africa.

Baba DIOUM: My name is Baba Dioum, general coordinator of the Conference of West

and Central Africa Ministers of Agriculture in 20 countries, and by the meantime lead

institution of the (inaudible).

Mamadou GOITA: My name is Mamadou Goita. I’m from an organisation called

IRPAD Afrique in Mali, and the member of the coalition COPAGEN. This is the

coalition to protect the (inaudible) in West Africa.

Agnes KALIBATA: My name is Agnes Kalibata. I’m the state minister of Agriculture

for Rwanda.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much and before we answer your questions, I

think Mr. Annan has a few opening remarks.


Kofi ANNAN: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen and dear friends. I am speaking to

you from Salzburg, Austria, on the last day of an important conference. For the last two

days, experts from many parts of Africa, with friends from other parts of the world, have

been debating the theme “Towards a Green Revolution in Africa?” I think no question is

more important for the future of our continent, and that is why last year I agreed to

become Chairman of AGRA – the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

Of course at this time of rising food prices and widespread hunger the most urgent task is

to get food to the people who desperately need it now. I welcome President Bush’s

announcement last night, and especially the fact that he is offering not only food aid but

also money for agricultural development in Africa. I very much hope that governments

here in Europe will follow suit.

But no one should think that once that is done they can sit back and relax. Humanitarian

aid must be only the first prong of a three-pronged strategy. The second prong, for the

medium term, must be a pro-poor approach to raising productivity and food security in

Africa. And the third – which will take much longer, but that’s precisely why we need to

start on it now – is to enable African farmers to dramatically increase their output, so that

Africa can feed itself and not be dependent on food aid. That is what the Green

Revolution is all about.

It’s also much easier said than done you will say, and it is vital we get it right. We need

to learn from past mistakes, and we need to listen to all voices – voices from African

governments, from researchers, from civil society, from the private sector, from donors,

from regional and international organizations, and above all from African farmers


That is what we have been doing these last two days, thanks to the Salzburg Global

Seminar, the Institute of Development Studies and the Future Agricultures Consortium.

They have brought together a remarkable group of people, some of whom are with me at

this table. They have introduced themselves already and now we will try to answer your

questions. Thank you.

Edward MORTIMER: Right, well, we had a number of people on the line and we have

one journalist present in the room with us from the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher

Zeitung, and we have also – many questions were sent in in advance by e-mail. And there

is one question which I would like to put first to Kofi Annan because it was sent by so

many people, and that is that is this: What is new about AGRA? What does it propose

that was not done before and which can really turn around the agricultural situation in

Africa? In what ways does AGRA expect to help improve the food production chain in

Africa? Mr. Annan.

Kofi ANNAN: Thank you, Edward, for that question. I think one thing AGRA has done

is to acknowledge that you have to work along the value chain. That we need to work

with Africans to ensure they breed of a right see they need, that they to improve their

soils, and we are working with them on both, and we intend to work on what

management and irrigation and food processing and marketing. So, we will work with

the farmer to get his produce from the farm gate to the market. We are working with

African scientists, training as many scientists as possible, to ensure that they can breed

the right seats, and that they can work their soils. We will be working directly with the


farmers themselves, and particularly the women farmers who produce of the food on the

continent. I am not implying we will ignore the governments. We will work with the

governments because they have a role to play. We would encourage them to come up

with the right policies, pro-poor policies and policies that encourage rural development. I

think this approach is workable and we’re not going to be doing it alone. We are open to

all those who share our mission, and we’re going to work with other partners within

Africa and without.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. Well, we have one member of an

African government also on the panel: Ms. Kalibata and perhaps she would like to

respond to what Kofi Annan has just said? Or to the question? If, well, if she would like.

Okay, she wants to parts for now. Does any other member of the panel which to

comment on this opening question? Eh, yes, Mr. Dioum.

Baba DIOUM: yes, I think that Africa is in a big turn due to many things happening

together, particularly the heads of state five years ago decided themselves to take the lead

and the leadership to define their own agenda. This is very new – to open their minds and

their spirits to collaborate with the rest of the world by a partnership. And also to

recognize that states themselves cannot achieve this. They say that the private sector,

civil society have to be on board really and to work with them. This is very new, this is a

new approach in Africa. It is why we are happy to be here and to be very inclusive with

this initiative of AGRA. We think that we can speak of achieving what the heads of state

have decided a few years ago.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. And now I think it is the turn of Mr

Thomas Botner from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. If you could come to the podium and ask

your question please.

Thomas BOTNER: thank you very much. This is an honour for me to speak first. I

have two different questions. First, as a Swiss, I would be interested if there is a

connection with you the global a humanitarian forum which is located in Geneva, and the

second question is, what about what do you think about the microcredit system as it is

installed for instance in Bangladesh. These are my two questions. Thank you very much.

Edward MORTIMER: so the first question clearly is for Kofi Annan.

Kofi ANNAN: Yes, I will take the first one. In a way the global humanitarian forum in

Geneva is focused, at least for this year and next, on the impact of climate change on

communities and individuals. And this directly links up with agriculture. We have

talked about the impact of climate change on agricultural production, changing brain

patterns, long droughts, making formerly fertile lands unploughable. We have seen how

deserts expand at a rate of 7 km per year. All this has impacted on agricultural

productivity. And if we do not take measures, serious adaptation measures, we will even

lose a little gains that we have made (unintelligible) to meet the millennium goals, or we

will see degradation in African agriculture. So whatever we do has to be sustainable. We

need to bear mind impact of climate change, we need to be able to adapt, to be able to


sustain our efforts, and what the forum is doing in Geneva is to help build capacity in

these vulnerable countries so that you increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability

of the people for them to be able to maintain their livelihood. So we come in, not only on

the issue of adaptation but also insisting on sustainable development.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. Would anyone want to answer the

question about microcredit? Madame Kalibata, from the government of Rwanda.

Agnes KALIBATA: Thank you. The question on microcredit is extremely important,

especially when we look at where we are going with the Green Revolution. The issue of

inputs becomes extremely important. The increasing prices of inputs that we have seen

today, inputs, especially fertilisers have more than have increased by five times more as

last year. So farmers who are accessing fertilisers last year have to pay five times as

much to put fertilisers in the same piece of land to produce the same amount of food that

they produced last year. Then in terms of seeds, too, production of seeds involves

investment in terms of (inaudible) stuff like that, still we need to be helping farmers

accessing seeds through us, to access credit. Another thing the Green Revolution

(inaudible) and this will increase microcredit systems to farmers. Thank you.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. Another question that was sent in by

many journalists in Africa was: are you afraid that the food prices will spur new conflicts

in African countries? And if so is the food crisis likely to pose obstacles to your plan?

Mr Annan would you like to have a first go at that?

Kofi ANNAN: We have already seen demonstrations around the world, because of the

food prices and the food crisis. I think it is important that we take urgent measures to

ensure that those who need the food get it. And that is why I am very encouraged by the

generous offers of governments from President Bush and other European leaders to offer

of the resources needed by the world food programme to continue this programme and to

acquire food at the new higher prices that we have seen. I think governments may also be

able to reduce some of the tariffs and take measures internally to make food available to

the poor. If we tackle the humanitarian emergency as effectively as we should and take

measures of the medium to the longer term, to ensure forward security in Africa, and

make a sustained effort to bring about a green revolution, I think that the current crisis,

need not to make the current situation worse, in fact, it could be an opportunity for all of

us to focus on an urgent task that we have ignored far too long.

Edward MORTIMER: I think Madame Kalibata would like to comment on that

question as well.

Agnes KALIBATA: yes, I think, like, the secretary general has said, I think this is a

great opportunity. One, because I think that in Africa and most of the food crisis that has

been talked about really should not be a case in point for Africa today. But it is going to

be next year, and the year after because whatever is happening in terms of biofuel and

stuff like that hasn’t really been happening here. What has been happening is that we

have probably been affected by whatever inputs are coming to Africa. But in terms of


production it should probably – nothing should have changed. What needs to be done is

to take these and ensure that we produce to take care of whatever is coming in as food aid

or inputs. So it’s an opportunity for people to get to import and increase whatever is

needed in terms of inputs and (inaudible) systems to make sure that food prices does not

become a bigger problem in Africa. There is a potential for that to happen, if we don’t

something about it.

Edward MORTIMER: Mr. Mamadou Goita who has worked with small farmers’

organisations, particularly in Mali.

Mamadou GOITA: Yes, I would like to talk a bit about this food crisis because people

are really mixing some of the points. I’m concerned about it because I know there are

problems with food issues in Africa. But the marches are beyond the issue of food. All

the marches that have been organised now are on different things. They are marching for

better salaries, there are marching for oil prices going up in the countries, so they want to

take out taxes and all these things, and also for food prices. So when we restrict it to only

food problem, I think that is a mistake because that is really giving just one part of the

problem. So this is the point I wanted to make. And the second thing is that people also

having these marches in different cities because of the prices of rights, in most of the

cases, and wheat. If you take the African context, this is really related to big cities,

mainly, because these are two crops that are mainly used at city level. Coming from a

country like Mali, but also having contact with West African countries, in my own case,

eating a lot of millet in my family and so on, I am not affected. I am not affected because

farmers form, I am working with they don’t even have a (inaudible) price for the millet.

So talking about prices-we have to talk, just where of the problem is. So this will lead us

to go behind this simplified way of talking about food crisis. Habit will have changed at

city level, so people are now eating more rise, more wheat with bread and so and so forth,

so it’s an opportunity for us in the case of Mali, because of those of us living in the city’s

fighting just to get better salaries and having access to (inaudible) and so and so forth, the

government has decided to put 47 billion CFA next year for this production. It’s a good

thing. But we say that this is just tackling the problem on a crisis basis, but we need

(inaudible) on a structural basis. So I really want to talk about this because it is really

important. (Inaudible) of these marches are not only for food. So when we talk about

food riots we are exaggerating things to my concern. Thank you.

Edward MORTIMER: Dr Adesina, you want to add something?

Akin ADESINA: Yes. I think we should also realise that the current food crisis – we’re

calling it crisis because for the first time there are people on the streets in the cities. But

Africa has always had food crises. There has been a silent hunger going on in Africa of

the last 30 years, and per capita production of food has been declining for the last 30

years. It’s just been affecting the rural folks. So we should realise that that silent hunger

has been there and Africa is one region where it is projected that we are not going to be

able to reach MDG goal one, to end poverty and hunger are because of that low

productivity of agriculture. So that’s really way of the crisis years. That’s where it bites.

It bites and those the supposed to be producing food-farmers, but they can’t even produce


enough for themselves much less sell the food to others. So that’s one point. Second one

is, as Mr Annan pointed out, this doesn’t have to be something that leads into civil crisis

but in fact some of that can lead to new opportunities. Remember though, in Asia in the

70s, when the Asian Green Revolution happened, there were the same set of factors: the

price of energy was very high, global food supply was very very low, and the price of

rice was so high that you had rice riots all across Asia. But that’s what pushed the Asian

governments to invest more in agricultural research that led to a green revolution. So we

are hoping that the African governments would see that as an opportunity to invest more

in agriculture, raise agricultural productivity, and get a Green Revolution that would

really address this problem at its roots.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. The correspondent from Radio France


RFI Correspondent: Which forms of aid are most appropriate for which countries?

Baba DIOUM: (translation) I’ve seen this crisis manifest itself in several countries. On

the streets you can watch it it, it’s there. And tomorrow and the day after tomorrow there

will be more countries who demonstrate in the same fashion. In any case, the first

measures that have been taken, and that will impact on future agricultural development, is

a reduction in tax on imports. Perhaps tomorrow this will impact on (inaudible) the state

budget which cannot subsidise (food) at the expense of other items. But what really

worries me is that this urgency obscures something very basic and fundamental. If, as Mr

Annan said, we do not know whether this crisis will change our policies, accelerate the

process, then we’re going to lose the battle against hunger. And that’s where I think there

is an opportunity.

Edward MORTIMER: O.K. Let me read a question which has been sent in by Beatrice

Kemunto from The Nation in Kenya. And she – I think it was addressed to AGRA: Have

you set yourselves specific objectives by which success can be judged, for example, have

you got a time frame within which you want to achieve some level of food security or

progress in the same line? So I will ask Mr Annan to answer that first but maybe others

will have comments on how they would judge whether the Green Revolution is

succeeding or not.

Kofi ANNAN: I would want Adesina to deal with that question, but let me say the way

the question is drafted it implies that all the responsibility lies on AGRA. AGRA is a

partner and is going to work with African governments and African farmers to make it

happen and with other partners. I think that success will depend on how seriously we

take this effort, and how we sustain this effort. And I believe that if we all take it

seriously and work in a sustained manner then the approach we have tried to define – I

think we will succeed and we should be able in my judgement to double or triple food

production by the African farmers in a period of five to 10 years. But at least we should

be able to do that. Akin, do you want to add something?


Akin ADESINA: Mr. Annan mentioned in his remarks yesterday at the opening of the

conference that talk is cheap. And I think in Africa both at the continental level, the

African heads of state through the (inaudible) programme and the NEPAD programme

political support, and also at AGRA level, we think that it’s time to move processes to

action. So you can only have success, if you are actually having action. So AGRA and its

partners are going to be action driven. We think that success needs to be measured in

terms of the number of farmers that you see using improved varieties of seeds and able to

significantly raise the productivity of their food crops (inaudible) children improve their

nutrition because their parents are able to produce more food and more nutritious food for

themselves. We will be able to measure it in terms of the income that farmers are able to

get because they are able to now have more to sell (inaudible) and also requirements.

Now, these of course cannot be done tomorrow. But we believe that with the work of

AGRA our partners we are working hard to produce varieties of crops that that applicable

to different geographical zones of Africa that farmers are benefiting from right now; we

are working on integrated soil fertility strategies that are helping farmers to raise

productivity and we are developing markets to assist them as well. So we think that in

the next five to 10 years you will see significant changes in Africa but if you go out right

now. You would not even begin to see that (inaudible) farmer feel. So these are very

clear indicators that I think we should all measure ourselves by.

Edward MORTIMER: Well, I’d be interested to know what Mr. Goita thinks about that

from this perspective of small farmers on the ground in west Africa.

Mamadou GOITA: Yes, I cannot say if there is any framework for assessing AGRA

right now because I’m not directly involved in the process but what I can say is that there

are conditions for the sustainability of this initiative. The first one is bringing on board

small-scale farmers. This is one condition because we know that the majority of

producers in Africa are small-scale farmers. I’m not talking about South Africa and other

countries where you have big producers. You take the case of my country. We have about

8% of the population working on the farm issues – agriculture, cattle breeding, fishing,

and so forth. And out of these more than 90% are small-scale farmers. And if these

people are not involved in the process, not just been consulted about giving them

responsibility on the issue, for me there is no way, it cannot work. And the second thing

is the content of the different actions that will be taken because of the sustainability of

some of these things have already been assessed. We’re talking about bringing fertilizers

to farmers. There is a lot to think about because we already have experience with cotton,

with peanuts in Senegal, Mali, Benin and Burkina Faso. Once you have opportunity for

farmers to get annexes to fertilizers, because they have to renew the process, and if the

funding system stops, usually the process will also stop. So there is a lot to think about

that. When you bring these kinds of input to them how wicked we sustain the process of

the funding system to allow these small scale farmers to continuously have access to it.

And that’s why I say, look, there are other opportunities also, other things that need to be

taken into account. This is what they are doing now in terms of soil fertility issues but

also in terms of water management system that is sustainable. So, there is a lot of

conditions that we need to think about and the other structural issues, because this is also

the kind of blockage we have between some types of research being done by research


institutes, and farmers doing research is a participatory process. So these are some of the

conditions. We may have others much to make it short. So if farmers in the process of

having a leadership on it. Secondly, the different elements that of the green revolution is

including is water management, the use of water, the use of fertilizers, and the use of

hybrid seeds. And if this system is based on a system that we know, on Green

Revolution, it will be a problem. So sustainability is also assessed in terms of

accountability, in terms of transparency, in terms of implications for farmers in the


Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. I think Mr. Dioum wants to make a


Baba DIOUM: In (inaudible) process a major issue is accountability and how we make

it. We set up all the process of benchmarking and monitoring and evaluation. And we

have criteria to measure very frequently what kind of progress we made on the

commitment in Maputo about the 10% budget allocation, but also on the 6% growth. This

allows us now to really set up a mechanism with our partners, what we call the peer

review mechanism, meeting every six months to measure what progress has been made.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. Well, Mr Annan is going to have to leave

us in a moment but I would like to put one question to him before he leaves, which was

sent in by Jeffery Mbanga from the Weekly Observer in Uganda. And the question is:

does the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa embrace the use of genetically

modified foods as a measure to counter the current food crisis?

Kofi ANNAN: Let me say that today were using conventional breeding efforts to

improve seeds and to be able to help farmers. We believe that working with the farmers

this approach we will be able to increase food production. Of course the issue of GMO is

not going to go away because AGRA has a different approach. As we move forward, that

debate will continue. Research on GMOs is continuing around the world and it cannot be

stopped. It is possible that down the line African governments may decide to adopt

GMOs. For the moment, most African governments have not taken that decision I’m sure

there would be organizations and institutions ready to work with them. AGRA is using

conventional breeding at the moment. Thank you.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much and I’m sorry that you have to leave us

now. If the other members of the panel are willing to stay for a few minutes, I still have

quite a few questions that have been sent in. Here is one actually from the Ghana News

Agency. Nate Glover-Meni says: some major problems soil management, lack of storage

facilities, lack of farming technology. Also, a high yielding seeds alone are not the

answer unless farmers are educated about the use of technology, farming practices and

processing. Finally, stable markets are important. How does AGRA intend to make sure

that its objectives all come together? Perhaps Dr. Adesina you could say something about



Akin ADESINA: The Green Revolution is most focused on the farmers, the small

farmers and the use of knowledge is critical to that. We must also recognize that farmers

have their own local knowledge, their own indigenous knowledge, so it’s not a question

of trying to bring new knowledge to farmers. We must deal with what farmers already

know. And this is very important in Africa because the archaeological zones in Africa are

very diverse, the crops are many and the food preferences are so different. So at the end

of the day it is the small farmer (inaudible) that can best decide where to plant that

variety. Whether to apply fertilizer or not. How much to apply on it. And so on. So we

really cannot make decisions for those farmers, they have to make those decisions. When

it comes to how all these things come together on the ground, it is again the countries that

have to make these things happen. AGRA works with governments, with the private

sector, with civil society organisations at country level to implement their own

programmes. AGRA doesn’t have any programme different from what the government

wants us to support. And so own way of working is to say we need to focus on

breadbasket areas. These are vast areas of Africa where, if you have the right kind of

seed, the right kind of soil fertility practices, you have irrigation and good roads and

market access, we can double, triple, and in some cases quadruple production now. But

we have to focus on those areas where the opportunities are. So at the country level,

where you are saying there is no scarce resources, focus on breadbasket areas. Bring the

markets, the seat, the soil fertility, the irrigation, everything together in an area where you

have a good infrastructure so that you can really push production, don’t disperse

resources everywhere.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. And now a question from Dorothy

Nakaweesi of The Monitor in Uganda. And she asks: how does the Green Revolution

plan to address land rights, especially in a country like Uganda, where she says, the

women till the land but have no say over it. Well, Dr. Kalibata you spent part of your life

in Uganda and you are the only woman on this panel so you might have some news on

this question, I think.

Agnes KALIBATA: Thank you but I will not speak for AGRA… (laughs)

Edward MORTIMER: No, this is the Green Revolution, it cannot be confined to


Agnes KALIBATA: … o.k., o.k., the issue of land rights is extremely important when it

comes to how agriculture is done. We have taken a decision in Rwanda that they has to

be equal rights to land irrespective of gender. So this land bias that is not allowing most

of the population that is tilling the land to have rights to the land is something that really

needs to be worked on. And the land is telling system is extremely important in raising

agricultural productivity. Basically with people and the willingness to invest in the land

and the amount of investment you going to put into land is direct related to whether you

own this land or whether you are renting it. so I would encourage people to start thinking

about equitable land rights. Thank you.


Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. Mr. Fletcher, the Reuter correspondent in

West Africa, if he is still on the line, would he like to ask a question?

FLETCHER: I would like to ask a question to Mr. Annan directly.

Edward MORTIMER: Well Mr. Annan is no longer with us, but he has asked Dr.

Adesina, who is the Vice President of AGRA, to answer any remaining questions on his

behalf. So please go ahead and put your question.

FLETCHER: Okay, well I would basically like to ask whether (inaudible) we’ve been

hearing from the international community since the beginning of the year and that there is

a deficit in funding for food aid for WFP. In that time, we have seen US and European

central banks provide billions, billions of dollars to ease the credit crunch that the effects

of the sub prime crisis. Yet we don’t seem to have filled the deficit for food aid of 750

million as I understand it for the WFP. So does the panel think that the urgency as they

are for the international community to respond to this crisis?

Edward MORTIMER: Akin?

Akin ADESINA: Yes. Clearly we have a situation where there are so many of the poor

in developing countries that are negatively affected by the current food crisis. We

households spend 60-70% of their incomes on food. And so you know, when somebody

is hungry, they become very angry. And so you can understand why you have to solve

that problem first in the immediate sense. You cannot have peace on an empty stomach.

But the amount of resources that are going to be needed to allow Africa to significantly

raise agricultural productivity in the medium and in the long-term are quite significant.

So the donor community shouldn’t think that because the current despite goes away, then

the problem is over. No. A large amount of funding will be needed in Africa for

agricultural research, for agricultural extension, for seed systems production, markets

development, for building infrastructure, roads, storage facilities that are going to be

required. Green Revolution cannot happen on the cheap, we can’t do this on a shoestring

budget. So we are asking that we are not losing perspective on the long-term that the

world is listening and that there will be significant support to allow African countries

achieve their much needed green revolution.

Edward MORTIMER: Well thank you. I find that I might ask a follow-up question to

Mr. Fletcher’s. Kofi Annan said at the beginning that he hoped that Europe would follow

Bush’s lead in promising increased aid for agricultural development in Africa. What we

actually see in Europe at the moment are debates with many governments seeking to

reduce for budgetary reasons the amount of money they have pledged to provide for

development, and I think we are nowhere near the famous Gleneagles commitments.

Maybe Dr. Kalibata, you would have a comment on that. No? Well, Mr. Dioum.

Baba DIOUM: Yes, or as far as let’s say more money is concerned, it’s really a very big

time now as they say. The world now sees that stability is really linked to the

development. Instability is linked to poverty. Do we think that sitting somewhere in


OECD countries we are in a good position when people in Africa are hungry? This is

another issue. We have to look it through. Now the global village as we say, is there.

These boats coming from Africa drawing young people in Europe due to what? Just lack

of development. Please invest, not just like business as usual. But take the global world as

your global world. Invest where (inaudible) have to make their own development to be

free. This is very important. I think that money is necessary, but also the technology is

necessary. How people can use in the best way the money they got. This is also very

important. Because we cannot make development just by giving money, no, we have to

train people, educate them, give them the opportunity to make business in their own

country. We have to develop our regional markets. This is a very big issue that we have

to face now.

Edward MORTIMER: But all of that costs money.

Baba DIOUM: Yes.

Edward MORTIMER: Mr. Goita.

Mamadou GOITA: I think this is not new what he is talking about – Europe or the US

promising things and not doing it, this is not new. What is new is the way that things are

happening. Of course we can talk a lot about this so this is not the time for that. Because

if you go fine to the histories of the 80s – why African agriculture is in that stage today.

So we need to ask this question. If we ask this question, we can learn from the past

because most of the foundations that are involved in the current process have already

invested a lot in African agriculture, theoretically – I’m talking about (in audible),

foundation for instance in my country and all these things, but things have not changed.

That is one thing we need to talk about. When they talk about technical assistance,

human resources, it is the key thing for agriculture. In the 80s, with adjustment

programs, we stopped all the assistance, technical assistance to farmers because of the

World Bank. And even teachers’ schools have been closed. So this is another issue but I

want to talk about food assistance …

Edward MORTIMER: Quickly please because we’re running out of time.

Mamadou GOITA: So that’s one point. Yes, the US government had decided to put, I

think if I remember very rightly, $200 million on food aid, of food aid to Africa. So it’s a

tricky thing. Because the knows that, at any time, that such situation happen in Africa,

you know, production is going down, because it will destroy the production system.

Secondly, people will be used to some type of product that they are not used to. This

happens to many of the (inaudible) countries in the past and $200 million of food aid in

the continent this year, and we all know that last seasons most of that countries had extra

production in cereals. We talk about Mali. We talk about Niger. We talk about Burkina

Faso. They all had extra production of food. Statistic will show and this is the reality. So

in this context there are riots about many other things and you bring $200 million of food

in the continent, this is destroying the system that is in place.


Edward MORTIMER: Adesina.

Akin ADESINA: I would like to say that we’re actually witnessing a good trend, a

development that we should not lose sight of. There was the World Bank Development

Report 2008 which brought the importance of agriculture back onto the development

agenda. And we think, in AGRA, that is a very very positive development. The president

of the World Bank also announced recently that the Bank will be increasing its support

for Africa from $400 million to $800 million next year. We think that’s a very significant

very important development. And President Bush also announced in terms of new aid

coming in. So those are very significant developments. So we should work on these

developments. We also realised that Africans themselves are putting up money, they are

not just going saying ‘give us more money’. The African heads of state agreed to increase

the share of their total budget in agriculture to 10%. Many of them are already meeting

those targets they agreed to in their Maputo Declarations. Now I am from Nigeria, and

we have a proverb that says that it is the baby that opens its hand that you actually carry.

What am trying to say is that African governments themselves are trying to do a lot and

they open their hands so they deserve support for us to succeed. Now what the African

governments or are saying and what we would like to also emphasize is: help us to

produce our own food. Being able to produce food in Africa is a matter of dignity. It is a

matter of national security. And therefore any support that is given to Africa is helping

African farmers and governments to feed their people with dignity, and everybody wants

that. So I think it’s very important for the world development community to honour the

commitments they have made. But more than ever that this is the time to act on resources

for African agriculture.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. And for the last word I turn to Agnes

Kalibata from the government of Rwanda.

Agnes KALIBATA: Thank you. In short, I would like to say what came out of this

clearly food crisis in Africa has been there at the household level. At the country level

food crisis will happen in the next few years, beginning next year if we don’t do anything

about it. Because, like I said before, the price of inputs, the price of seeds and fertilizers,

the price of fuel (inaudible) indicated that are going to all the other things that are

important in getting food to the table have all gone up. So if we continue doing business

as usual in Africa, if we don’t pay attention to the fact that an increase in seeds and

fertilisers is necessary in the coming years, we will definitely have a bigger food crisis,

actually a national food crisis. So it will move from the household to the national level.

We need to be doing something about it. Thank you.

Edward MORTIMER: Thank you very much. So thank you from the Salzburg Global

Seminar and goodbye.


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