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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Statement by President Kikwete - Opening of The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRA) - 2012




STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE,

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, AT THE

OPENING OF THE AFRICAN GREEN REVOLUTION FORUM 2012,
 27th  SEPTEMBER 2012, ARUSHA, TANZANIA


Your Excellency Dr. Kofi Annan, Chairman of
the African Green Revolution Alliance (AGRA);
Your Excellency Dr. Eng. Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President of the Republic of Burundi;
Your Excellency Ambassador Seif Iddi, Second Vice President of Zanzibar;
Honorable Ministers;
Distinguished members of the diplomatic Corps;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;



It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Tanzania and to Arusha in particular for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum.  I hope you have been received well and enjoying the traditional Tanzanian hospitality.  I commend you for choosing Arusha to play host to this meeting because this is a good place to combine business and leisure.  Arusha is the hub of Tanzania northern tourist circuit.  The world’s famous game parks like the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are only a stone throw away from here.  For sea and beach lovers, the Spice Islands of Zanzibar are only 40 minutes flight from here.  I hope you will find time after this meeting to visit those wonderful tourist places.  I am sure you will be appetized enough to come back for a longer safari experience.

I thank most sincerely, His Excellency Dr.  Koffi Annan, Chairman of the Board and the entire management team of AGRA for choosing my dear country, Tanzania to host the 2012 African Green Revolution Forum. You have accorded our country great honor for which we will always be grateful and cherish. I also thank all the distinguished participants who have travelled from afar to come and participate at this meeting. It speaks volumes about the importance that you all attach to African agriculture.
Mr. Chairman;
I consider the theme of “Scaling up Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Agricultural Growth and Food Security” to be very pertinent and timely.  It is a statement of fact that inadequate investment and innovation are major constraining factors to modernisation, transformation and growth of agriculture in Africa.  In turn it is the source of prevailing precarious food security situation on the Continent.

As we all know, agriculture is the life blood of the economies of African countries and a source of livelihood for the majority of our people. It employs between 70 - 80 percent of the people of this continent; it contributes a sizeable proportion of the GDP; and it is a major source of foreign exchange earnings. Furthermore, agriculture is a source of food for our people and of raw materials for our industries. In essence, therefore, the economic growth of most African countries is anchored on agriculture. If we succeed in boosting agricultural productivity and production in Africa, we stand a better chance to attain more robust economic growth and sustainable development, ensure food security and eradicate poverty.


Ladies Gentlemen;

Unfortunately, Africa’s agriculture remains backward and primitive, characterized by low productivity and production due to limited application of modern science and technology.  Africa’s agriculture is over dependent on rain water, there is low use of high yielding seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.  Farmers lack modern agricultural production skills and knowledge and do not have access to financial and other supportive services. Consequently, farm sizes are small, yields are low and revenue from agricultural activities remains meager.  Therefore, many peoples who are predominantly dependent on agriculture form the bulk of the poor and so are their nations. It also makes food security situation precarious causing people in some places and countries to survive on food aid.

This, in many ways, explains the high prevalence of income poverty and food insecurity in Sub-Sahara Africa. In fact, more than half of the population in Sub Sahara Africa lives on less than 2 dollars a day and over 239 million people are food insecure. Malnutrition is also a serious problem in Africa particularly among children and pregnant women contributing to high child and maternal mortality.

Excellencies;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
          Under these circumstances, any meaningful intervention to eradicate poverty and ensure food security in Africa must of essence address and resolve the issue of low productivity and production in agriculture.  The logical steps towards attainment of that noble goal, therefore, is what the theme of this Forum is all about:  We must scale up investment and innovation in agriculture.  If we cannot do that all efforts to transform agriculture will be an exercise in futility. 

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Efforts to transform agriculture in Africa should of necessity focus on addressing those factors that are constraining transformation, fast growth and development of agriculture. We must scale up irrigation and reduce the predominance of rain-fed agriculture. With just 5 percent of the total cultivated area being irrigated, Africa has the lowest irrigated area on this planet.  Asia is at 37 percent and Latin America is at 14 percent. With unreliability of rainfall these days, due to climate change, agriculture in Africa has become highly vulnerable and less productive.

Fortunately, Africa has plenty of water resource both underneath the earth and on the surface, on the many lakes and rivers criss-crossing the continent. We, therefore, need to invest more in construction of small, medium and large scale irrigation schemes to ensure reliable and sustainable agriculture. 


Ladies and Gentlemen;

 We should also increase the application of science and technology in African agriculture. Sadly, the hand hoe remains the dominant tool for cultivation used by many farmers. Some are using the oxen plough and few, indeed, very few, are using tractors. By any standards, the hand hoe and oxen plough, are not the best technologies for cultivating the land these days. Farmers cannot have large farms and attain high levels of efficiency using such technologies.  It follows therefore that our farmers will remain poor with low productivity and production if we do not change the way we do our farming. We must, find ways to enable the African farmer mechanize his agriculture. 

Besides this, the other thing we must do to enable the African farmer have access to use modern agricultural inputs. Many farmers use traditional seeds which do not yield much because they do not have access and cannot afford high yielding seeds. As a result farmers get poor harvest and earn less from their sweat and toil. 

Improved and high yielding seeds is the work and product of agricultural research and development.  Unfortunately, Africa does not invest much in agricultural research and development.  This has to be corrected in order to facilitate the development of appropriate varieties of seeds for the different agro-ecological zones.


Ladies and Gentlemen;  

There is very little use of fertilizers despite its importance in maintaining soil fertility and increasing crop yields. At the moment, African farmers use an average of 8 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare and only 10 percent of the world’s total fertilizer use. We must scale up the use of fertilizers in Africa for better results.  Farmers should be assisted to get fertilizers.

They should also be assisted to have access and use of pesticides and insecticides. A lot of crop is lost to pests and diseases.  If controlled productivity, production and revenue accruing to farmers from agriculture will increase tremendously.  Post harvest losses can also be prevented or even minimized.  The African green revolution drive should therefore, ensure that farmers get the essential farm inputs and implements at an affordable price.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable financial mechanisms to enable the African small holder farmer access the required credit to get his agricultural production needs.  Ways must be found to overcome this overarching constraint.  I know of government subsidy schemes which have been quite useful.  However, their sustainability is doubtful because African governments cannot have adequate resources.

There is need, therefore to ensure reliable and sustainable financial services to farmers and make them more responsive to the needs of small holder farmers. At the moment, commercial banks do not seem to be well positioned to take up the responsibility. They argue that it is too risky and expensive to lend money to small holder farmers. This may be correct from the banks point of view but farmers cannot be left without financial services.  How would they improve their lot?   They cannot be left to remain trapped in the poverty cycle. We therefore need to look into innovative ways of making the small holder farmer in our dear continent access reliable financial services and more important credit at an affordable cost.


Excellencies;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

For African agricultural transformation to happen, we must ensure that extension service is adequately and readily available to farmers.  Without it, farmers will not easily get modern skills and knowledge.  They will continue to use old ways of farming methods which are outdated.  This means, therefore, we need to scale up investment in education and training so that more crop and livestock extension workers are available.  Unfortunately, they are not sufficient in the continent. 


Excellencies;

Fortunately, what I am saying today is not new.  It is very well known to the world and African political leaders, policy makers and activists. The numerous past initiatives and commitments to transform agriculture at continental, regional and national levels are enough evidence that we know what needs to be done.  We have done enough so let us do more.  Let us begin by doing what we have agreed to do. 

At the continental level African leaders have adopted a number of initiatives and declarations aimed at addressing the question of agriculture.   These include the Lagos Plan of Action (1980), the Maputo Declaration on Food Security (2003) which committed African countries to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agricultural development and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of NEPAD with the aim of increasing agriculture growth rates to 6 percent per year.

 Furthermore, African leaders adopted the Sirte Declaration on Agriculture and Water (2004) and the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution (2006) by which AU Member States resolved to increase fertilizer use from 8.0 kg to 50 kg of nutrients per hectare by 2015. Also there is the 2008 Sharm el Sheik Declaration on the High Food Prices which committed AU Member States to reduce by half the number of undernourished people in Africa by 2015, through taking the necessary measures to increase agricultural production in Africa.


Ladies and Gentlemen;

At national level, all African countries have been taking various measures and making interventions with the aim of transforming their agriculture. All countries have plans and programmes to develop their agriculture in order to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and promote overall economic growth.

We in Tanzania, have been doing the same.  Agriculture has always been given top priority since we attained independence in 1961. Several attempts have been made to develop agriculture in the country.  The most recent initiative to develop agriculture in Tanzania is the 2006 Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP). This is a 14 year programme aimed at transforming Tanzania’s agriculture through overcoming obstacles to transformation and growth of the agriculture sector.

In the course of its implementation we realized that, the programme was overly dependent on government financing and support from donors.  Unfortunately our Government’s financial capacity is very limited and donor’s financing is not sufficient enough to meet all the needs of the sector.  Furthermore, donor support to agriculture in Africa has declined from 18 billion dollars twenty years ago to 3 billion dollars three years ago before increasing to the current level of 6 billion dollars  


Ladies and Gentlemen;

Allow me at this juncture to acknowledge the invaluable support that Africa gets from  public, private and non-profit organizations including those represented here. We thank you for your understanding and timely support. It is like a short in the arm at the right time. The contribution of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to the development of Tanzania’s agriculture is remarkable through four inter-linked programs namely, Program for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS), Soil Health Program, Market Access Program and Policy Program.

In 2011 AGRA supported our Ministry of Agriculture to develop the Breadbasket strategy. The implementations of these programs are continuing to bear fruits. For example, AGRA program have helped to reduce distance farmers travel to access agricultural input from average of 30 kilometres to 16 kilometres in the 39 districts where the agro dealer development is being implemented.  AGRA’s support has helped to reduce post harvest losses from 30 percent to 15 percent in Kilombero District. These are no small achievements. We want to reassure those who are supporting AGRA that your money is not wasted. It is making a different in the lives of Tanzanians.


Ladies and Gentlemen;

Besides demanding Governments and donors to do more, we need to do more to increase the involvement of the private sector to address financial, technical and technological challenges facing Africa’s agriculture.  This is something that we in Tanzania released in 2008 and have been doing in earnest since 2009.   In 2008 my government, in collaboration with the private sector, decided to undertake a joint study of the situation of agriculture in the country and agree on what we can do.  The study concluded that agriculture needed to be given top priority by everybody: the government, farmers, private sector and development partners. 

We all agreed that agriculture should be given top most priority.  It should come first.  This is what gave birth to the catch-phrase or motto of Kilimo Kwanza meaning “Agriculture First”.  The purpose of Kilimo Kwanza is to accelerate the pace of implementing the objectives of the ASDP with a more proactive participation of the private sector to complement efforts of government, donors and small holder farmers.



Ladies and Gentlemen;                
                                        
          We decided to take this direction because we knew that private sector involvement will make a huge impact in tackling the constraining factors to agricultural growth in the country.  Private entrepreneurs can engage in large scale farming, supply of agricultural inputs and farm implements.  The private sector can provide credit to farmers and ready market for their produce.  The private sector can engage in agro-processing to add value.

  On its part the government will continue with its facilitative and enabling role.  This includes putting in place sound policy and regulatory environment, investing in research and development, providing extension services and building relevant institutions. 

As we began to reap the benefits of involving the local private investor, in 2010 we undertook to involve international private sector as well.  It was agreed in 2010 World Economic Forum for Africa held in Dar es Salaam that their involvement must first and foremost focus on enhancing food production to meet national and regional needs.  In this regard, we decided to concentrate on the regions of Iringa, Morogoro, Ruvuma, Mbeya and Rukwa which currently produce most of the food for Tanzania.  These regions have comparative advantages in terms of good climatic conditions, soil fertility and availability of water. 

Because of being in Sothern Tanzania, hence the birth of the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor (SAGCOT).   It was decided that the government, donors, private sector and smallholder farmers’ work together to turn 350,000 hectares of land into profitable production.  It is estimated that an investment of USD 3.4 billion would be required over a period of 20 years for that purpose.  In return, Tanzania will produce enough maize and rice for herself and a surplus for export.  Around 420,000 new employment opportunities will be created and 2 million people will be lifted out of poverty. 


Ladies and Gentlemen;

          I am happy that we are making steady progress and the future looks even more promising.  There is evidence that the productivity of small holder farmers is increasing. In Kilombero District, Morogoro Region, for example, the yields for maize have recently increased for smallholder farmers from 1.5 tons per hectare to 4.5 tons per hectare; the yields for rice have increased from 2.5 tons per hectare to an average of 6.5 tons per hectare. Overall, we have now attained 95 percent food self sufficiency.

I am sure with Kilimo Kwanza taking root and SAGCOT gaining momentum, food security will improve and that Tanzanians and their neighbors can be assured of adequate food without any encumbrances. We also hope that in the process of implementing these initiatives, the fortunes of small holder farmers will change for the better through being linked with large commercial farmers.  They will get all the support they need in terms of inputs, financing and markets.


Ladies and Gentlemen;

In May 2011 during World Economic Forum for Africa, in Cape Town, under guidance of NEPAD, seven countries namely, Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique and Tanzania decided to work together in efforts to transform their agriculture with the involvement of the private sector, donors, governments and small holder farmers.  This lead to what is now known as the Grow Africa Partnership.  This initiative is driven by the conviction that private sector is an important partner and key stakeholder who can bridge the technical, technological and financial resource gap in Africa’s agriculture development and growth.  The initiative is in line with CAADP’s encouragement to the private sector to participate in the whole range of agricultural value chain. Governments, smallholder farmers and private sector have to work together to unlock agricultural potential in the continent.

It is heartwarming indeed to note that the Growth Africa Partnership has received deserved attention and support of the international community. This is exemplified by the decision of the G8 Summit of May, 2012 in Camp David where members pledged to support Grow Africa Partnership within the framework of G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Program.  They agreed to start with three pioneering countries of Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia, later extend to the remaining four of the pioneer countries. Following the G 8 commitments, the response of the private sector was very encouraging and many private international companies indicated interest to invest in agricultural development in Africa.


Excellencies;
Distinguished participants;

          Let me conclude by saying that, we are poised to succeed in our quest for eradicating hunger and poverty in Africa through transforming agriculture.  With the right policy mix, appropriate interventions being taken by African Governments, the continued support of donors, and robust participation of private sector both local and foreign, transformation of agriculture in Africa is an achievable undertaking. I believe the time is now because there seems to be a growing global consensus to assist Africa in transforming its agriculture.
  

Your Excellency Dr. Kofi Annan;
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;
Honorable Ministers;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

It would be remiss of me if I concluded my speech without expressing sincere gratitude to Dr. Kofi Annan for his commitment, passion and exemplary leadership in taking the African agriculture agenda forward.  In the same vain, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Mama Melinda and your dear husband Bill Gates for choosing to devote your time and precious resources to support efforts aimed at transforming African agriculture.  I cannot find better words to say how grateful we are to your support for agriculture and many other areas.  You are exceptional human beings.  Please continue to do the good work.

 I believe your hard work is bearing the deserved results.  I know it will take time because we are starting at very low levels.  For sure it is possible to attain a hunger free and poverty free Africa as a result of transformed agriculture.

          Let us therefore re- dedicate our efforts to ending Africa’s persistent food shortages and poverty by dealing with the problems constraining transformation of African agriculture once and for all.   

          Thank you for your kind attention.

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