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Saturday, February 18, 2012



Madam Rhoda Tumusiime, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture;
Representative from World Economic Forum Secretariat Representative;
Representatives from NEPAD;
Representatives from the Private Sector;
Distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Introduction and Welcome

I thank you Honorable Minister Prof. Jumanne A. Maghembe (MP) for inviting me to officiate at the opening of this important Ministerial Consultative Meeting on the Grow Africa Partnership. I thank all the distinguished delegates for accepting our invitation and for their presence here today despite the short notice. This is enough testimony of your commitment to the quest for transformation of Africa’s agriculture.
Meeting Background
Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
As Ministers, Government, the African Union and NEPAD officials and, as WEF’s and private sector officials responsible for agriculture, there may be no need for me to labour so much about the importance of agriculture to our countries, our continent and our organizations. Agriculture is essential to provide food for humanity and a source of livelihood for the majority of our people in Africa. One cannot talk of food security in Africa and the world without talking about agriculture. No serious person can talk about effective poverty reduction in Africa without talking about agriculture which employs over 70 percent of the people on the African continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Cognizant of these facts, African leaders and governments have been undertaking various initiatives to transform agriculture from being backward and lowly productive to becoming modern and highly productive. In essence, these initiatives involved increasing the application of modern science and technology in production, better organization and management of crop and animal husbandry, and, the availability of important services such as finance, markets, infrastructure etc.
The other important fact about Africa’s agriculture is the predominance of the government in the whole business of development and transformation of agriculture. In fact many of the initiatives to develop agriculture involve governments and donors. At limited times they also involve NGO’s supported by donors, also working with governments or small holder farmers. There is very little participation of the private sector both local and foreign in Africa’s agriculture.
This is an omission which cannot be left to continue. Otherwise, agriculture will take a very long time to turn around. The private sector is needed in all aspects of Africa’s agriculture: for seed research development; multiplication and distribution for large scale production; and involving small holder farmers as out-growers and where possible, making inputs available to farmers like fertilizers, pesticides as well as markets for farmers’ produce. The list of what the private sector can do is long. If properly harnessed this huge private sector potential can make a huge difference for the better. Precisely, this is what has been occupying our countries and many others for years. Several plans and initiatives have been formulated to encourage the participation of the private sector in agriculture in Africa. However, much more needs to be done. The Grow Africa Partnership which our countries are members is a good example of efforts across countries to promote private sector participation in African agriculture. It is a forum for exchanging ideas and doing advocacy for support.
Meeting Objective
Honourable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is heartening, indeed, that the Grow Africa Partnership is attaining international recognition as an important initiative worth being supported. The Grow Africa Partnership is beginning to be considered a worthy interlocutor on African agricultural issues. We are gathered here precisely for that. This is an opportunity we must make good use of. Our views and ideas are being awaited at the forthcoming African Economic Forum in Addis Ababa and G8 Summit in Chicago. At the last WEF meeting in Davos, I met the US Under Secretary, Robert Hormats and USAID Administrator, Raj Shah and we discussed the possibility of the G8 Summit allocating time to listen to our views.
We must get started. You will agree with me that we do not have much time left. That is why we, your Principals, decided that you, our Ministers responsible for Agriculture should hold this meeting and develop the proposals. I am glad you could meet at so short a notice. I know, this is not the last meeting. I have no doubt in my mind that you will rise to the occasion.
You should therefore explore how best our development partners can support our efforts to develop our agriculture and help us build a conducive environment that would enable both local and international private sector to come and partner with us in promoting agricultural development. We are all aware how the private sector can play a big role in the agricultural value chain from production to its apex. All that is required of us is to do the right things to leverage their participation.
Let me use this opportunity to reaffirm to our partners gathered here this morning that the Grow Africa Partnership governments are more than committed to the realization of this initiative. We will, therefore, do everything in our power, use every resource at our disposal and all our mental and physical faculties which God has endowed us with to make this Grow Africa Partnership a great success.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Before I conclude my remarks let me use this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to our development partners, NEPAD, the WEF and the AU Commission for supporting this initiative since its inception and investors who had put faith in us even before we had concretized our vision. Indeed, the pioneer investors have provided immense encouragement and momentum for going forward.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me conclude by thanking all those who have worked tirelessly on the preparation of this meeting at very short notice. Special thanks go to the AU Commission, NEPAD Secretariat, the WEF Secretariat and of course Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, who are our host. Equally important I wish to thank all the delegates for attending this meeting, surely without your coming, its success would have been in jeopardy. On behalf of my colleagues, Heads of State and government, I look forward with great anticipation, to receive concrete proposals at the end of this meeting.
I thank you for Listening.

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