Opening Panel

Opening Panel: William Asiko, Grow Africa; Sean de Cleene, AGRA; Rafael Flor, The Rockefeller Foundation; Jackie Mikindi, TAHA

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After spending two days in the field in Tanzania and Kenya visiting farms, processors and innovation sites, the Summit kicked off with an opening panel of regional leaders putting the trends in Tanzanian agriculture into context. Jackie Mkindi, the CEO of TAHA, emphasized the growth of the horticulture sector and the opportunity presented by the trend toward urbanization in which 54% of the population is living in an urban area. Mkindi is optimistic about the potential of Tanzanian farmers to capitalize on this opportunity given the fast pace of dissemination of improved seed, drip irrigation and other technology to TAHA members.

Rafael Flor, the Director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise initiative, identified the Sustainable Development Goals as an opportunity for alignment on a focused framework for the integration of environmental, livelihood, and economic development agendas. He encouraged us to think about the power of big data to reach more farmers and consumers with targeted messages for make better decision making. William Asiko, CEO of Grow Africa, echoed these messages and encouraged the public sectors in the region to double down on regional integration efforts. Stressing the functionality of existing frameworks such as CADAP, Asiko shared the enormous potential that exists in private sector investment but reminded us that that potential can only be realized with well functioning governments that develop consistent investment policies and build capacity to work with the private sector. Policy uncertainty throws cold water on commercial investment decisions.

Sean de Cleene, Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), built on these themes to demonstrate how agriculture development in the region is transitioning from value chains to cluster development, as shown in the strategy of SAGCOT. He emphasized the need to adapt and de-risk finance to support cluster investment as well as the need for agricultural policies that promote inclusive growth.

From these top line messages, we identified the drivers and trends in the region, which informed the rest of the Summit’s breakout sessions and plenaries.

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