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Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

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Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an organization promoting a second Green Revolution, this time in Africa. It was founded in 2006 by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AGRA has been the subject of controversy and criticism both in the U.S. and in Africa. The organization Community Alliance for Global Justice is a leading critic of AGRA with its project AGRA Watch.[1] At the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, Africans marching behind a banner for the group Fahamu were seen holding signs that said, "No to AGRA," and "Non a la Revolution Verte AGRA." The interim founding president in 2006 was Gary H. Toenniessen.

AGRA describes itself as "African-led." However, the board of directors - led by an African, Kofi Annan - consists of five Africans and five non-Africans. The organization's funders, which hold significant power over the activities of AGRA, are American foundations.

AGRA in Their Own Words

In their own words, the organization is:

"a dynamic, African-led partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. AGRA programs develop practical solutions to significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment. AGRA advocates for policies that support its work across all key aspects of the African agricultural “value chain”—from seeds, soil health, and water to markets and agricultural education. AGRA is chaired by Kofi A. Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. AGRA, with initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, maintains offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana. [2]

They continue, saying:

"In addition, we will work in close partnership with the Africa Union and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and with other African development institutions (national and regional) to achieve our goals. AGRA strongly endorses the framework set out by NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which aims for a sustained 6 percent annual growth in agricultural production by 2015." [3]

AGRA's Crop Breeding Programs

The core of AGRA's crop breeding program is called the Programme for Africa's Seeds Systems (PASS). For more information, see the article on AGRA's Programme for Africa's Seeds Systems.

Statement on Plant Breeding and Genetic Engineering

"The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) supports the use of science and technology—in everything from field-based soil ecology to cyberspace-based market information systems—to aid Africa’s smallholder farmers in their urgent efforts to end widespread poverty and hunger.
"An important AGRA initiative is the development of new crop varieties that will withstand pests and disease; cope with drought, marginal soils and other environmental stresses; and dramatically increase farmers’ yields. Only with sustainable increases in farm productivity will smallholder farmers be able to feed themselves and their families, end widespread hunger, produce a marketable surplus, and stimulate economic growth.
"Our goal is to develop 1000 new varieties as rapidly as possible, using conventional breeding and participatory methods in which plant breeders work closely with farmers to develop varieties with the traits farmers need.
"AGRA is not at this time funding the development of new varieties through the use of genetic engineering. We have chosen to focus on conventional breeding techniques—which can be quite technologically sophisticated—for two main reasons:
  • We know that conventional methods of plant breeding can produce significant benefits in the near term at relatively low cost. Until now, however, conventional plant breeding has not received sufficient attention or investment in Africa, leaving untapped the inherent genetic potential available in African crops. With improved seeds produced through conventional breeding methods, plant scientists and farmers could readily raise average cereal yields from one tonne to two tonnes per hectare—making a major contribution toward ending hunger and poverty in Africa.
  • Conventional crop breeding fits within the regulatory frameworks now in place in most African countries, enabling relatively rapid dissemination to farmers of the new varieties they desire.
"Therefore, conventional breeding is our starting point. However, we also know that science and society are continually evolving. AGRA itself will be funding initiatives that strengthen Africa’s scientific capacity at a number of levels. We do not preclude future funding for genetic engineering as an approach to crop variety improvement when it is the most appropriate tool to address an important need of small-scale farmers and when it is consistent with government policy.
"Our mission is not to advocate for or against the use of genetic engineering. We believe it is up to governments, in partnership with their citizens, to use the best knowledge available to put in place policies and regulations that will guide the safe development and acceptable use of new technologies, as several African countries are in the process of doing. We will consider funding the development and deployment of such new technologies only after African governments have endorsed and provided for their safe use.
"Our mission is to use the wide variety of tools and techniques available now to make a dramatic difference for Africa’s smallholder farmers as quickly as possible."[4]

AGRA's Soil Health Program

In January 2008, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations committed a total of US$180 million ($164.5 from the Gates Foundation and $15 million from the Rockefeller Foundation) to a new Soil Health Program. According to the group's press release: "AGRA’s Soil Health Program will foster widespread adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). The ISFM strategy involves assessing local soil and water resources and considering how organic matter, fertilizers, farmer cropping systems, and farmer knowledge can work in concert to create highly productive and environmentally sustainable approaches to soil revitalization."[5] For more information, see the article on AGRA's Soil Health Program.

Board and Staff

Directors

Former board members:[7]

AGRA Officers and International Staff

Office of the Chairman:[8]

Office of the President:[9]

Farmer Organization Support Centre (FOSCA):[10]

Office of the Vice President, Policy and Partnerships:[11]

  • Augustine Langyintuo, Program Officer, Seeds and Fertilizer Policies (currently Officer in Charge, Policy and Partnerships)
  • John A. Wakiumu, Program Officer, Innovative Finance, Policy and Partnerships
  • Nixon Bugo, Program Officer, Innovative Finance, Policy and Partnerships
  • Maria Mulindi, Associate Program Officer, Civil Society, Advocacy & Partnerships

Strategy, Monitoring and Evaluation:

Program Officer – Monitoring & Evaluation

Program for Africa's Seed Systems:

  • Joseph DeVries, Director, Program for Africa's Seed Systems
  • George Bigirwa, Senior Program Officer, Program for Africa's Seed System
  • Jane Ininda, Program Officer, Crop Improvement and Farmer Variety Adoption
  • Issoufou Kapran, Program Officer, Seed Production and Dissemination
  • Rufaro Madakadze, Program Officer, Education and Training
  • Kehinde O. Makinde, Program Officer, Agro-dealer Development and Country Officer, Ghana
  • Fred Muhhuku, Program Officer, Agro-dealer Development and Country Officer, Tanzania
  • Aboubacar Touré, Program Officer, Crop Improvement and Farmer Variety Adoption

Market Access Program:

Soil Health Program:

  • Bashir Jama, Director, Soil Health Program and Director, Accra Office
  • Rebbie Harawa, Program Officer, Soil Health Research & Extension
  • Amatévi Raoul Klutsé, Program Officer, Fertilizer Business Development
  • Argent Chuula, Program Officer, Fertilizer Business Development and Country Officer, Mozambique
  • Marie Rarieya, Program Officer, Training and Education

Operations Department:

Special Initiatives:

Critiques

Funding

According to AGRA in June 2009:[12]

"AGRA’s main funding partners are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). A number of additional partners have joined to launch complementary initiatives. DFID, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), IFAD, and The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) joined with AGRA to launch the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF). JICA is a strategic partner with AGRA on the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD)."

The Rockefeller Foundation has provided the following grants to AGRA:[13]

  • January 2007: $50,000,000
  • December 2007: $46,463
  • January 2008: $15,000,000
  • January 2008: $2,000,000
  • October 2011: $5,000,000
  • Total: $72,046,463

The Gates Foundation has provided the following grants to AGRA:

  • December 2006: $100,000,000[14]
  • October 2007: $164,580,000[15]
  • October 2008: $15,000,000[16]
  • September 2009: $15,000,000[17]
  • May 2010: $6,700,000[18]
  • September 2010: $28,000,000[19]
  • Total: $329,280,000

Contact

  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
  • Eden Square
  • Block 1, 5th Floor
  • P.O. Box 66773
  • Westlands 00800
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Ph: +254 20 3675 000/ 254 20 703 033 000
  • Fax: +254 20 3750 653
  • Email: info@agra-alliance.org
  • Web: http://www.agra-alliance.org

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch

References

  1. AGRA Watch homepage, Accessed February 19, 2011.
  2. About, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed December 9, 2007.
  3. FAQ, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed December 9, 2007.
  4. Statement on Plant Breeding and Genetic Engineering, Accessed March 17, 2012.
  5. "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Commits US$180 Million to Revive Depleted Soils of Small-Scale Farmers," AGRA, January 25, 2008, Accessed April 1, 2012.
  6. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed March 17, 2012.
  7. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed December 9, 2007.
  8. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed March 17, 2012.
  9. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed March 17, 2012.
  10. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed March 17, 2012.
  11. AGRA Board & Staff, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, accessed March 17, 2012.
  12. "AGRA: Early Accomplishments, Foundations for Growth," AGRA, June 2009.
  13. Grant Search, Accessed March 28, 2012.
  14. Grant OPP43987, Accessed March 12, 2012.
  15. Grant OPP48790, Accessed March 12, 2012.
  16. Grant OPP51697, Accessed March 12, 2012.
  17. Grant OPPGD939, Accessed March 12, 2012.
  18. Grant OPPGD702, Accessed March 12, 2012.
  19. Grant OPP1006391, Accessed March 12, 2012.

External Articles