Kofi Annan, who is the current Chairman, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), added that improving productivity and profitability of the agricultural sector is essential for improving food security.
Kofi Annan and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited rural cassava farmers and a commercial village dedicated to cassava processing near Arusha, Tanzania. The visit was conducted prior to the start of the three-day African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Arusha.
Annan said agriculture offers real opportunities to African states to not only feed their citizens and participate in the global food security system, "but to create employment opportunities for our young people and make living in the rural area comfortable."
"If we can do that people will not rush to the cities to live in the slums, the way they are doing. We will be increasing incomes, and laying the foundation for progress in other critical areas."
While calling for special attention for the millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, Annan called on African governments to carry out the right agricultural policies by "providing infrastructure for agriculture, supporting their farmers who are mainly women."
In the past, the smallholder farmers, who are mainly women, have carried this continent by putting food on the table with hardly any support from the private sector, the government, and the financial services or the insurance industries.
"Now is the time to back them up and let us go through this wonderful transformation called the Green Revolution."
AGRA President Jane Karuku added "Smallholder farmers are at the center of all that we do. Our approach is clear and proven - if we provide African farmers the tools that they need to grow more and improve their incomes, they will help lead us all into a more prosperous future."
Meanwhile, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mriso Kikwete, will perform the official opening ceremony of the African Green Revolution Forum 2012 with the central theme of 'Scaling Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Agricultural Growth and Food Security.'
Addressing the media, Thursday, the Tanzanian Minister of Agriculture, Engr. Christopher Chiza, disclosed that 14 Heads of government are expected with 23 Agriculture ministers in the continent confirming their attendance.
"The forum brings together African Heads of State, ministers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, farmers, NGOs, civil society organizations and scientists."
Chiza added "Public- and private-sector leaders are joining forces in unprecedented ways to ensure a more food secure future," said Yara President and Chief Executive Officer, and co-chair of the forum, Mr. JÃÂ¸rgen Ole Haslestad. "We have seen great success when players come together and invest strategically - we hope to build on new momentum and work together to transform agriculture in Africa."
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