The Call for an African Green Revolution
Then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, at a July 5, 2004 meeting of food security specialists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, pointed out that the Green Revolution had tripled food productivity in Asia, but “Africa has not yet had a Green Revolution of its own.” The Secretary General then called for a strategy to bring food security to Africa.
“Let us generate a uniquely African Green Revolution – a revolution that is long overdue, a revolution that will help the continent in its quest for dignity and peace…Given the right kind of national and international support, Africa can achieve the 21st century Green Revolution that it needs…And let us never again allow hunger – needless hunger – to ravage lives and the future of the continent.”
Then-President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria later repeated the call and pointed out why per capita food production in Sub-Saharan Africa has decreased over the past three decades.
“The main reason for Africa’s food shortages is soil nutrient depletion. Africa loses about US $4 billion worth of plant nutrients from its soils each year due to continuous cultivation without nutrient replenishment…We must feed the soil that feeds the people…If Africa is to rapidly enhance its ability to feed itself, we need what the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for – a uniquely African Green Revolution. This will require an increase in the use of fertilizer…Therefore, African governments have decided to take action to catalyze large-scale adoption of fertilizer.”
Subsequent calls for an African Green Revolution came from the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, then President of the Sasakawa Africa Association, and former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter of The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Collective voices such as these led to the Africa Fertilizer Summit, organized to create a plan for the African Green Revolution.
The Africa Fertilizer Summit
The Africa Fertilizer Summit was one of the largest meetings in history to focus on Africa’s food issues. Heads of state and governments called for the elimination of all taxes and tariffs on fertilizer in the historic Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for an African Green Revolution. Summit participants also agreed on 12 resolutions designed to increase fertilizer use five-fold in 10 years in the Abuja Declaration.
The Summit opened new windows of opportunity for agencies to address the complex issues of removing yield constraints and improving soil fertility and food security in Africa. All stakeholders realized that urgent, comprehensive and long-term actions were needed if Africa is to restore soil health and feed its burgeoning population.
IFDC was chosen to help organize and to implement the Summit. Dr. Amit Roy, president and CEO of IFDC, in a corporate report address on the Summit stated, “The obstacles to agricultural development in Africa are enormous and long-standing. Human, institutional and research capacity, as well as physical infrastructure, must be built to enable Africa to compete effectively. Policies should be changed to encourage business investment. Furthermore, as history has demonstrated, countries must take charge of their own futures if they are to build better futures for their children.”
The Summit was attended by 1,100 participants including five African heads of state, 15 ministers of agriculture, 17 members of the Summit’s Eminent Persons Advisory Committee, and hundreds of leaders of international organizations, agricultural research centers and private sector companies. The historic Abuja Declaration was written at the conclusion of the Africa Fertilizer Summit on June 13, 2006, in Abuja, Nigeria.
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The Africa Fertilizer Summit: How Much Progress Has Been Made in the Last Five Years?