AGRA FACES | 2010

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OPENING MESSAGE FROM BOARD
The Faces of the Green Revolution in this publication are just a few of the many farmers, scientists
and entrepreneurs who are changing the landscape of African agriculture with the support of national
governments, the international community and organizations like AGRA. This is what can be accomplished
when smallholder farmers work with the tools of modern agriculture – robust, high-yielding seed, practical
integrated soil fertility and water management practices, affordable credit and efcient markets.
These are the actual faces of Africa’s Green Revolution and these are their success stories. They represent
the many men and women whose potential, when unlocked, are driving the transformation of Africa’s
agricultural systems and development of Africa’s economies. They show us that progress is being made;
there is a way out of hunger and poverty.
But they need our active and focused support. If we are to meet the Millennium Development Goals in
2015 and deliver on the world’s commitment to reduce human suffering, we must accelerate this
momentum. This is the goal of an African Green Revolution and it is why we are gathering at this forum in
Accra: to make real on our commitments, to pool our resources, our experience and our best thinking to
rapidly advance a sustainable, uniquely African Green Revolution.
(Names of all board members)
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Seeds
Farming starts with a seed. Africa is facing a shortage in
quality seeds suitable to African environments, local tastes and
consumer preferences. Closing the seed gap starts with
training scientists to breed new crops for their people, setting
up local companies to multiply those seeds and then making
them available at prices farmers can afford. Over 9,000
agrodealers have been trained to better serve farmers. AGRA’s
support to breeders and local African seed companies has
enabled 140 new varieties of seed to not just be developed
but to get into farmers hands. Last year alone, 8,500 MTs of
new seed was produced and that amount will double by the
end of this year.
Soils
Africa loses roughly $4 billion in soil nutrients each year,
costing farmers in lost productivity and eroding the continent’s
ability to feed itself. But simple solutions can reverse the trend.
AGRA’s programs in soil health are working to restore 6.3
million hectares of degraded farmland over 10 years. Whether
it’s setting Africa’s rst digital soil map to monitor the problem
and inform decision making or promoting the use of lime to
counteract western Kenya’s acidic soils or increasing the use
of fertilizer microdosing by farmers in the Sahel, AGRA is
focused on stemming the crisis and transforming Africa’s soils
from a curse into blessing for smallholder farmers.
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Markets
Farming is a business, not just a way of life. For decades, African
farmer’s had two choices at harvest time - sell immediately at a low
price to middlemen or let the crop go to waste. AGRA brings new
solutions to old problems by using available technology like radio and
mobile phone messaging to make sure farmers get a fair deal and earn
a prot. The establishment of warehouse receipt systems supported by
commercial banks gives farmers an opportunity to store their crops
when prices are low after harvest, and sell them later at a higher price
when prices go up. AGRA supports a number of projects to improve
crop storage and post harvest management to reduce post harvest
losses. It facilitates increased aggregation of smallholder producers into
farmers’ groups and associations reducing farmers’ transaction costs.
This has helped more than 20,000 farmers in Uganda to more
effectively market their produce.
Policy
Getting better seeds and inputs to farmers and ensuring they have
access to markets and credit for requires a supportive policy
environment. In Malawi, Tanzania and Rwanda, effective polices have
eased farmers’ access to seeds and fertilizer to help produce bountiful
harvests and generate impressive economic growth. Changing policies
that drive up the cost and reduce availability of fertilizer for the
smallholder farmer has been one of AGRA’s big successes. Such
changes reect an emerging consensus policy support is essential to
transforming Africa’s agricultural sector. Farmers and agribusinesses
also need affordable credit. Typically, Africa’s commercial banks extend
less than 3% of their lending to agriculture—despite the major role it
plays in African economies. AGRA and its partners have mobilized $160
million in affordable loans from local commercial banks through credit
guarantees. This is the new face of African agriculture.
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Maimouna Coulibaly
Thanks to the ingenuity and persistence of one Malian woman, Maimouna Coulibably, and AGRA support to allow
local, African entrepreneurs a chance to gain expertise in the highly specialized eld of seed production and
marketing, for the rst time ever, poor farmers in Mali can now purchase quality seeds for local food crops. Her
independent, private seed company, Faso Kabo, has brought more than 300 metric tons of improved seeds to
smallholder farmers so they can achieve high yield crops in key foods such as maize, sorghum, cowpea, rice and
vegetables. This is helping to address food security in Africa.
Bassidou Samake
Upon his father’s passing, Bassidou Samake, a farmer in Sanankoroba Village in Mali, assumed
leadership of his 42-person family, and struggled with the huge challenge of feeding his many relatives.
With just a 6thgrade education and no formal source of income, Samake also looked for help from
Faso Kaba, a local seed company supported by AGRA. Today, Samake has three deals with Faso
Kaba; he is one of 50 local farmers who produce seed for the company. Bassidou’s farm is also used to
demonstrate new technologies to other local farmers and he has started a small supply shop that sells
improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers in the neighborhood.
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Bino Teme
After years of diligent work, Malian sorghum breeders led by Dr. Bino Teme, the director of Rural Economic
Institute (IER), have nally broken the yield barrier of one of the country’s most important food crops. The
hybrids—which stand to quadruple the harvests of this drought-hardy staple—will be released to farmers
across Mali. Teme expects up to 50 per cent of farmers to adopt the new varieties within several years.
Over the next year, the IER will train seed producers on the breeding techniques and carry out demonstra-
tions to promote the seeds among farmers. AGRA supports the breeding efforts of the IER, extending a
tradition of innovation at the Institute.
Koptegei Widows Group
In 2007, 24 women farmers came together to form the Koptegei Widows Group and pool their meager earnings
through an informal savings arrangement. Group leader Christine Chebii Ngogi tells how the women struggled to
generate income as they faced a lack of capital and skill. But their subsistence farming received a boost from
AGRA’s partnerships with Cereal Growers Association (CGA), the World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress
(P4P) and Equity Bank. Through these collaborations, the women received valuable harvest production and
business training, as well as nancial backing, which eventually led them to win a competitive tender with P4P to
deliver 250MT of maize worth 6 million Kenya shillings.
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Dinnah Kapiza
Dinnah Kapiza transformed her used clothing business into a full-line farming supply store in rural Malawi. Opened
with an investment equivalent to just US$310, her agro-dealer shop now turns over US$36,800 worth of farm
supplies every year. Kapiza got her start with the assistance of AGRA grantee the Malawi Agrodealer Strengthening
Program. It trains entrepreneurial men and women like Kapiza in business management and provides a steady
supply of farm products. Today her shop serves about 600 smallholder farmers within a 15 kilometer radius, selling
seeds, farm tools, crop protection products and fertilizer—and dispensing crucial advice. Kapiza is one of thousands
of agro-dealers in eleven countries trained through AGRA support and now serving smallholder farmers.
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Janey Leakey
After three years of toil, Janey Leakey, a founding director of Leldet Seed Company in Nakuru, Kenya, can rest
assured that improved varieties of underutilized crops like pigeon pea, sorghum, soya beans, chick pea and ground
nut will nally be approved for production by the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Services. Breeders have historically
faced many nancial and bureaucratic hurdles in getting new crop varieties certied, and in the hands of farmers. But
through an AGRA grant, Leldet has not only surmounted those hurdles, but also conducted more than 600 demon-
strations to tens of thousands of farmers across Kenya. Its sales of small seed packs—matched to the size of
farmer’s pocketbooks and acreage—is raising yields and spurring demand for high quality, certied seedGeof-
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Annet Mubiru
As an agro-dealer in rural Uganda, Annet Mubiru is gratied when farmers benet from her farm products and advice.
One of the farmers she has helped is Sebulega John Bosco, who more than doubled the yield of beans on his diverse
farm. Yet, many farmers still don’t get the chance to work with well-stocked, well-informed agro-dealers like Mubiru.
AGRA aims to train and certify 9,000 agro-dealers by 2011, increasing farmers’ access to affordable inputs. AGRA is
also making low-interest loans available to agro-dealers, so they can fully stock their shelves, and to small-scale
farmers so they can invest in their farm businesses. Then, like Sebulega John Bosco, farmers will be able to boost
their yields and incomes. Farms can be small, sustainable and protable.
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frey Kananji
Bean farmers in Malawi have long battled with bruchid beetles which destroy crops in storage waiting to be eaten or
sold. Geoffrey Kananji, Ph.D., National Research Coordinator for Legumes, Fibres and Oilseed crops in Malawi, has
dedicated his research to developing bruchid-resistant bean varieties, a solution that would greatly help the country’s
many smallholder farmers. Kananji is also inspiring a movement to actively involve farmers in the plant breeding and
research process. AGRA’s support of Kanaji and other African crop breeders has led to the release of dozens of pest-
and disease-resistant crop varieties that are well adapted to their local environments.
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Joanina and Peter Kibuti
Peter and Joanina Kibuti, farmers from Kenya’s Embu region, took advantage of the AGRA-supported Citizens Network
of Foreign Affairs (CNFA) farm training programs in their community. They organized into groups of 15 farmers each, col-
lectively purchased quality seed and fertilizers and shared the cost of transporting those inputs to their farms. With these
resources and better farming practices, group members more than tripled their maize yields. They opened a cereal bank
to store their surplus and used their collective bargaining power to negotiate a good sales price. Now the group plans to
start grinding and packaging their own maize our to add value to their crop. With AGRA support, Embu farmers are
transforming the entire food value chain, to the benet of their families and communities.
Hadji Wanonda
In Namulonge, Uganda, Hadji Wanonda grows Nerica, a variety of rice so unique and productive that its
breeders won the World Food Prize in 2004. Nerica is not restricted to growing in paddies. Even without
irrigation it can be grown in places that no one before thought possible. Hadji’s willingness to invest in new crop
varieties like Nerica has paid off handsomely. He now makes up to US$800 in three months by selling his
surplus and he is employing local men and women to help with farm work. Hadji’s story is part of a larger effort
supported by AGRA to boost African rice production and achieve African food security.
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Elizabethi Justin
Elizabethi Justin lost her mother and her chance for a college education when she was 19. Today, at just 24 years of age,
Elizabethi has opened her third agro-dealer shop in Olmokea Village. And, she plans to open a fourth, all with the help of
an affordable loan made possible by AGRA, the National Micronance Bank, and the Financial Sector Deepening Trust.
Qualifying for the loan took persistence, for bank ofcers looked at the young woman before them and questioned
whether she would make good on her debt. But Elizabethi triumphed. She received the loan and repaid it in just six
months. Now she remembers and repeats her mother’s words to her own four-year-old daughter, “Every woman can
become anything they want in life.”
Francis and Juliana Mutungi
Francis and Juliana Mutungi, two farmers in eastern Kenya, joined with 24 fellow members of a local farming cooperative to
express thanks to their friends and partners - plant breeders Clement Kamau and Joseph Kamau. The two AGRA-supported
scientists had worked closely with the farmers to develop a new variety of cassava that is disease resistant and produces a
crop in nine months instead of the customary 16, ensuring an additional harvest. Today, Francis, Juliana and their small grand-
daughter stand amid plants that are three-to-four feet high, with healthy green leaves. This year, they will have a bumper crop—
enough not only to eat, but to sell to the local bakery, which will grind it into our to make breads and buns. With the additional
income, Francis will be able to pay the school fees for his ten children and buy more land to expand his farm and livelihood.
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Mildred M’mbasu
Mildred M’mbasu’s ourishing maize is a testament to a new farming practice in Majemo Village - the use of soil lime to
counteract acidic soils. Mildred is eager for her neighbors to take up the practice and proudly shows the results of this
simple but effective technique. Crops like beans, cassava and vegetables as well as maize are ourishing with the use
of lime. Now, lessons from their farms are spreading far and wide. An initial pilot project is being scaled up to restore
the soils and diversify farming for 50,000 farmers in the region. It is the result of a broad program involving farmers,
agro-dealers, researchers, two local fertilizer companies, a local bank, civil society and AGRA.
Paulo Ng’ondola
Paulo Ng’ondola grows maize and groundnuts and raises chickens. Not long ago, Paulo was a beneciary of the
government voucher system which provides subsidized seed and fertilizer to resource-poor farmers. The system worked
as it was meant to and today Paulo buys his own inputs and markets his surplus through the AGRA-supported “Super-
markets in the Air” program run by the Malawi Agricultural Commodity Exchange. Paulo embraced new agricultural tech-
nologies—improved seed and better soil management—acquired from agro-dealer Dinnah Kapiza and now he owns a
new house and holds a bank account. Paulo Ng’ondola, the 2008 winner of the Malawi National Achiever’s Award,
demonstrates the indisputable role of persons with disabilities towards food security and economic stability in Africa.
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Chrispus Oduori
When Chrispus Oduori was a child, he would watch his mother grind nger millet into our, then mix and cook it into a
porridge called ugali. Today, Chrispus is the rst plant breeder in all of Africa to have received a PhD in nger millet—a grain
that feeds more than 100 million people across Africa—despite its low yield. Chrispus earned his degree from the AGRA-
supported African Center for Crop Improvement in South Africa. Now, he is working with the Kenyan Agricultural Research
Institute and farmers in his home district to develop high-yielding varieties of the classic African grain. In one demonstration
eld, farmers planted a row of the commonly used variety, with two rows of Chrispus’ improved seeds on either side. The
old variety has barely begun to sprout, while the new seeds are green and vigorously growing.
Ibrahim Benesi
In southern Malawi, farmers assess the yield of cassava by the number of plants a farmer must harvest to make a meal.
In the past, three plants grown from a local variety were needed to make a meal for a family of ten. Now, that arithmetic
has changed thanks to cassava breeder Ibrahim Benesi. Only one plant of a new variety developed by Ibrahim produces
enough to feed the same size of family. AGRA supports Ibrahim’s work at the Chitedze Agricultural Research Station.
There, he is working closely with farmers to develop another 10 varieties able to resist plant viruses, produce large tasty
cassava in record time, and store and process well. “This is not the end but just the beginning of research, and involving
the farmer is the key to ending the food crisis,” says Ibrahim.
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Maria Andrade
Vitamin A deciency is a leading cause of blindness, disease, and premature death for the world’s poor, affecting millions of
children under age 5 and pregnant women across Africa. In Mozambique, an unusual sweet potato that is coloured orange
due to its high content of Vitamin A is making a difference. It’s the brainchild of Maria Andrade, a researcher whose bright
orange Toyota land cruiser is used as a mobile billboard for the many benets of sweet potato. Maria has spent the last few
years traveling throughout Mozambique and several other African countries encouraging people to grow and eat sweet
potato and developing markets processed goods like bread and chips which are not traditionally eaten in places like
Mozambique, and promoting the crop as a replacement for expensive vitamin supplements for children in Africa.
Chopi Lovemore
The last thing you’d expect a seed seller in Malawi to be talking about is building an empire. But Lovemore Chopi isn’t
your average seed seller. After a few months of selling vegetable seeds on the sidewalks of Blantyre, Lovemore decided it
was time for a change. He enrolled in a training course supported by AGRA on business and marketing for agrodealers.
And the rest is history. Chopi recently purchased a new BMW with prots from rapidly expanding business. Although a
conversation with Chopi sounds a lot more like a conversation one would expect from a budding hip hop mogul or a
European football star, his dreams are just as big. With the right support in business processes, African entrepreneurs are
changing the face of the agriculture – helping farmers succeed and helping themselves succeed.
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Dr Henry B. Obeng
Dr. Henry Benjamin Obeng, Ghana’s rst soil scientist, was, until his retirement in 1982, the Director General of the Soil
Research Institute (SRI) of the Council for Scientic and Industrial Research (CSIR). Dr. Obeng is also the renowned for
being the rst African to get a graduate degree in Soil Science. His contribution to the eld of soil science, despite a less-
publicized personal life has made him a global gure for over many decades. Dr. Obeng strongly believes that to achieve
agricultural transformation in Africa, African governments need to encourage the youths to enroll in soil science and
agronomy at all levels of education. AGRA is also helping to train the next generation of experts who can bring smarter
thinking to agriculture policies. So far, this support has added 130 graduates to the next generation of Africa’s scientists.
Rukira Secondary School
Rukira Secondary School, a girl’s only school in Kenya, learnt about Tissue Culture (TC) bananas from another
school in their area. The students planted 300 stems with 291 surviving but not yet owered. AGRA supports the in-
troduction and diffusion of TC banana in Kenya which is not only a reliable food security crop but also a major
commercial option for cash-strapped smallholder farmers. AGRA is now working to scale-up out the benets of TC
banana technology in Kenya across the whole value chain Model. AGRA also actively supports agricultural activities
and education in many schools across sub-Saharan Africa. Young people are the future of African agriculture.
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CLOSING MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT
AGRA remains dedicated to catalyzing a Green Revolution in Africa. In partnership
with others, we are supporting thousands of farmers, small agribusinesses, current
and future scientists and policy makers across sub-Saharan Africa transform farming
from a mere subsistence livelihood to protable operations. We are already seeing
the results of innovative intervention and investment in the smallholder agricultural
sector.
Bringing the Africa Green Revolution Forum to Africa gives all a sense that
momentum is accelerating and the massive change needed in the agricultural sector
is within reach. Each success story you read has an even wider circle of impact –
improving the lives of thousands of families and communities. And each of these
men and women add to the legion of champions in the elds, in the research
institutes and in the corridors of power who see that a strong agricultural sector is
the route out of poverty.
Going forward, we will build on these accomplishments and accelerate progress by
assembling a critical mass of resources in areas that hold the greatest promise of
success – the “breadbasket” regions of Africa. With smart planning and investment,
these areas can achieve signicant production increases and make an enormous
difference to a country’s food security. They will change from areas of chronic food
shortage to productive breadbaskets bursting with Africa’s staple food crops.
Working with partners globally and locally, we will continue our efforts to mobilize
investments and stimulate innovation in smallholder farming to bring about a
uniquely Green Revolution in Africa.
Namanga Ngongi
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