Covid-19: Experts explore food systems transformation in Africa
African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that while the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many fragilities in contemporary food systems, it has also created opportunities for local organizations and technologies to quickly mitigate these fragilities while showcasing the resilience, innovation and adaptation of African food and agricultural systems.
Martin Fregene, AfDB Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry joined other food systems specialists for a pre-event panel called Scaling and Food Systems Transformation in the POST-COVID-19 Era.
The panel explored the contribution of public-private partnerships in scaling and transforming agriculture on the continent as well as the importance of developing policies to encourage small and medium-enterprise (SME) growth.
On the panel were representatives from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, SYNGENTA Foundation, Management Systems International, CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), GIZ (Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit), and development partners such as USAID (Agency for International Development).
Georges Bigirwa, Interim Vice President for Program Development and Innovation at AGRA, said the private sector has a crucial role in transforming agriculture and bringing innovations throughout the continent.
“We worked with governments to enable private seed companies for example to bring about systemic change. It is important to acknowledge the role of private seed companies in the agricultural chain,” Bigirwa told panel attendees,” Bigirwa said.
The panelists also discussed the role of private and public partnerships and actions that will drive a deep and innovative agriculture value chain transformation on the continent.
“The Bank engages with SMEs – especially private seed companies in innovation platforms to try to scale up modern food production technologies, for example heat tolerant wheat in Sudan and Ethiopia and drought tolerant maize in Southern and East Africa,” Fregene said.