Kofi Annan, the former secretary- general of the United Nations, accepted one of the biggest challenges aimed at promoting Africa to be the top leader in food production.
The project has an initial capital injection of US $ 160 million from Bill & Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations.
“This is a very practical initiative; we are going to involve the scientists, women farmers, youth and the rural people,” said Annan, speaking in the resort city of Cape Town. “We will be going into each and every village across Africa to identify the needs of farmers.”
It is estimated the project will cost Annan one-third of his working time and it comes at a time when most of Africa has up-scaled to farming. The Botswana government has re-introduced SLOCA, NAMPAD (National Master Plan for Agriculture and Dairy Development), and ALDEP and young farmers’ fund in a bid to boost agriculture in the country.
Finance and Development Planning Minister, Baledzi Gaolathe, applauded the move saying that Botswana would support some of the initiatives.
“We need that because we are a food deficient continent. And just recently, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) wants to give the agricultural sector some support, and the leasers have concluded that it should be given 10 percent of the total budget,” said Gaolathe. “I think enough talk has been done already; what is left is action.”
The government is in the midst of releasing studies aimed at understanding the shortfalls of the sector and improving on it.
“I am honoured today (Thursday) to take this important post and joint with my fellow Africans in a new effort to comprehensively tackle the challenges holding back hundreds of millions of small scale farmers in Africa,” Annan said. “Africa is the only region where the overall security and livehood are deteriorating. We will reverse this trend by working to create an environmentally sustainable, uniquely African Green Revolution where our poorest farmer can finally prosper and all Africa will benefit.”
According to Annan, the aim is not to change the African staple food but rather to increase their staple at the expense of export crops. These will include maize, sorghum, yam, cassava and other African crops. The aims have been applauded by leading observers within the region.