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USAID, AGRA appraise new $47m seed, technology support for African farmers

By Eric Ojo, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID
and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have
expressed optimism that the new $47 million Scaling Seeds and
Technologies Partnership scheme for small scale farmers, will
accelerate progress to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa.

USAID and AGRA said in Dakar, Senegal on Monday that the
three-year partnership intended to accelerate smallholder farmer
access to transformative agricultural technologies, will work in four
countries within the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security namely,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Tanzania where it will help
governments strengthen their seed sectors and promote the
commercialization, distribution and adoption of improved seeds
and other key technologies.

The Partnership also aims to increase production of high-quality
seeds by 45 per cent in three years and ensure that 40 per cent
more farmers gain access to innovative agricultural technologies.
When the New Alliance was launched, President Obama and
others pledged to leverage technology’s transformative potential
by taking innovation to scale.

To accomplish this, they committed to a series of enabling actions
to promote adoption of agricultural technologies: setting yield
targets that support country-defined agricultural goals, identifying
key innovations that can help farmers reach those targets,
harnessing information and communication technologies to
support agricultural growth, and promoting policy reforms to
improve the enabling environment for agricultural investment that
will lift millions out of poverty.

The Partnership will help deliver on these New Alliance
commitments. By strengthening seed and input sectors, the
Partnership’s efforts will leverage technology’s tremendous
potential to spur agricultural growth in Africa, which in turn can
catalyze broad-based economic growth, improve smallholder
incomes, and reduce hunger, poverty and stunting in children.
These gains will also help partner governments meet the country-
determined agricultural priorities they set during the
Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP)

While lending credence to this, USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah
explained that the Partnership will help strengthen seed sectors,
including regulatory systems, and create new local seed
companies, ensuring that game-changing technologies can reach
and improve the lives of millions of smallholders.

“The United States will continue to support this and other New
Alliance efforts through Feed the Future, President Obama’s
global hunger and food security initiative”, he said.

Also speaking in the same vein, the President of AGRA, Jane
Karuku affirmed that a remarkable improvement is being made in
seed development and other agricultural inputs in the continent,
especially in the last few years.

“We have seen great progress in the development of seeds and
other agricultural technologies in recent years. Crucially, these
are seeds that are suited to Africa’s soil, weather and needs —
they hold tremendous promise for Africa’s smallholder farmers.
AGRA has been working with our partners across the continent:
We have supplied 57,000 metric tons of seeds and released over
300 improved seed varieties. This partnership with USAID will
enable us to scale up this work and ensure that even more
smallholder farmers can benefit from these extraordinary
technologies” , he further disclosed.

By helping African farmers access improved seeds, inputs, and
complementary technologies, the Scaling Seeds and
Technologies Partnership helps boost agricultural productivity,
food security, and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

To kick off its new coordination role, the Seeds and Technologies
Partnership held an inaugural workshop this week in Nairobi,
Kenya, where USAID and AGRA representatives consulted with
key government, research, donor and private-sector partners on
strategies for coordination and collaboration. These discussions
mark the first in a series of in-depth, national-level dialogues on
scaling up farmers’ access to agricultural innovations in New
Alliance countries.

USAID is an independent agency that provides economic,
development and humanitarian assistance around the world in
support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. The
agency promotes peace and stability by fostering economic
growth, protecting human health, providing emergency
humanitarian assistance, and enhancing democracy in developing
countries while AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the
African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their
families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

In addition, AGRA programmes develop practical solutions to
significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while
safeguarding the environment. It also advocates for policies that
support its work across all key aspects of the African agricultural
value chain from seeds, soil health and water to markets and
agricultural education. With support from the Rockefeller
Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the UK’s
Department for International Development and other donors,
AGRA works across sub-Saharan Africa and maintains offices in
Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana.

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