Green Revolution for Africa

Past Program

May 03 - May 07, 2008

A "Green Revolution" in Africa: What Framework for Success?


"Toward a 'Green Revolution' in Africa?" is a Project of the Salzburg Global Seminar, the Institute of Development Studies and the Future Agricultures Consortium. The Project, through a series of interconnected events, seeks to:

  • Enable proposals for a "green revolution" in sub-Saharan Africa to be tested and refined through deliberations between a wide range of experts, including those concerned by current directions, from different sectors and regions. This approach will help proponents of a "green revolution" to think it through carefully and from multiple perspectives, provide opportunity for constructive dialogue with critics, and ensure that efforts proceed within a broad policy framework, taking into account institutional, political, socio-economic, and technical prerequisites.
  • Better define a holistic development framework within which new investments in African agriculture can be positioned, streamlined with other new and existing development investments, and help stimulate further investments (monetary and other), ultimately reducing poverty and increasing sustainable economic growth and opportunity.

There is a clear need for a new vision for agricultural development in Africa that can deal with the complexities of agriculture in diverse settings across Africa and meet the conditions necessary to achieve more equitable benefits for Africa's farmers. But whose vision should - and will - this be? How can complexity and diversity be dealt with? What lessons can be extracted from recent successes in African agricultural development and how can recent growth be sustained, expanded, and accelerated?
How can new investments and actors in African agriculture support efforts to align policies and political processes to support agricultural as well as broader development goals? How can innovation systems be made robust, relevant and sustainable? How can the hardware of science and technology be linked to the software of institutions, policy and social dynamics? How should agricultural science and technology in Africa be governed?

At the heart of these, and the many additional, critical questions are two overarching ones:

  1. How can new interest and investment in African agriculture be used to bring about real and sustainable change; and
  2. How can these efforts be aligned strategically with other investments and development activities (be they from private donors, public aid, or private business) and new strategic alliances and partnerships be created to ensure success?

In recent years, African farmers and policy-makers have achieved a series of significant successes in agricultural development, although these successes are still inadequate in number and scale to counter sub-Saharan Africa's considerable economic, social, and political challenges - and to take full advantage of the considerable human capital and resources available. The Project is exploring common ingredients and processes that have led to the emergence and persistence of successes, as well as ways that policy-makers translate these lessons into improved performance. By examining instances in which important advances have occurred in the past in African agriculture, the Project will aim to identify promising avenues for achieving similar success in the future.


Akin Adesina: Need to work with partners to identify the key elements for a successful African Green


Kofi Annan on How the Green Revolution Will Succeed


Kofi Annan on the need for an "African Green Revolution"


Josephine Okot: Key Roles for Enterprise and Innovative Financing in an African Green Revolution


Lindiwe Sibanda: Inclusive Policy Processes are critical to African Green Revolution


Sheila Sisulu: Crisis is wake-up call to invest in African agriculture


Mamadou Goita: Farmers are central to the success of any African Green Revolution


Grace Allen Wasike: East African Farmers Foundation

Project Launch and Initial Outputs

The Project was launched at a landmark conference, April 30 - May 2, 2008, at the Salzburg Global Seminar at which Kofi Annan provided the keynote speech. Immediately following the conference, a special seminar was held (May 3 - 7, 2008) to refine the conference conclusions and identify workable strategies for application on the ground. The Conference and the Seminar focused on:

  1. Assessing the most critical issues and setting out an agenda for a 'uniquely African Green Revolution' within a sustainable development framework; identifying essential ingredients, guiding principles, critical paths and leverage points
  2. Identifying opportunities for adding value to strategic alliances and partnerships with a view to enabling the articulation and implementation of an 'African paradigm' growing out of African conditions and solutions

The nature and precise meaning of a "uniquely African Green Revolution" (Mr. Annan's phrase - see video above) were vigorously debated by a wide range of African experts. There was broad agreement, however, that farmer's organizations must be central to efforts and also that there is a need for better coordination between the many African initiatives and institutions now engaged in agricultural reform.

The issues of building stronger and broader alliances, and ensuring fuller participation of farmers (many of whom are women), will be at the heart of the work moving forward.

In the next phase, the Salzburg Global Seminar, with its partners IDS and FAC, plans to organize workshops in different parts of Africa to test the conclusions reached at Salzburg against the experience of African farmers, people engaged in the transformation and marketing of agricultural products, and other stakeholders.