(Nairobi, Kenya) : The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has announced that the 2nd edition of the African Conference of Agricultural Technology (ACAT), Africa’s largest Agri-Tech meeting and AATF’s flagship conference, will be hosted by Rwanda in 2025.
This was announced today at the closing ceremony of the inaugural ACAT conference held from 30th October – 3rd November 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya themed “Agricultural Resilience through Innovation” and co-organized by AATF and the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
In his key note address at the event , former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the AATF goodwill Ambassador Dr. Goodluck Jonathan said: “The last five days have not only been a learning curve for most of us but also provided an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of agricultural technologies, dissect the challenges militating against effective deployment, and consider the prospects for a better future for Africa with technologies playing a bigger role.”
At most of the sessions that I was privileged to attend, one thing was clear that Africa needs the technologies to feed its teeming population and prepare for the future of the generations coming after us, Goodluck Jonathan added.
“What I have witnessed this week at ACAT has shown me that there is hope still. We have an opportunity to open a new chapter in our efforts to improve agriculture and by extension the wellbeing of our people. This must be deliberate and cannot be left to the government alone.”
According to Goodluck, ACAT has clearly shown that African agricultural landscape is ripe for transformation ,and the seeds of innovation are ready to be sown. “We must seize this moment, harness our resources, and channel our investments wisely to drive the innovation necessary for a prosperous agricultural sector in Africa,” he said.
Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi, in his message read out by his representative, on his part pointed out that the conference provided a platform to foster consultations by key players in African agriculture including Governments, private sector, research institutions, and civil society organizations.
“All these key players need to continue to work together to create an enabling environment for innovation and technology adoption by farmers. The discussions, actionable plans and commitments made in this forum will go a long way in uplifting our farmers and contribute to improved food security and the prosperity of our nations.”
The agriculture sector plays a pivotal role in the economies of African countries and appropriate agricultural technologies and innovations can help in the realization of increased incomes for farmers, food, and nutrition security, the Cabinet Secretary indicated.
He further said that African nations need to continue to put in place and implement appropriate policies, strategies, and institutional frameworks to make agriculture more competitive and raise farmers’ incomes.
You can Read the Full Version of the Communiqué Below :
Communiqué of the African Conference on Agricultural Technologies (ACAT)
Friday 3rd November 2023
Convened by the Government of Kenya and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) with the support from partners, the first African Conference on Agricultural Technologies (ACAT) was held in Nairobi, Kenya from October 31 to 3 November 2023 at the Safari Park Hotel. Themed “Agricultural Resilience through Innovation”, the ACAT provided a platform for high-level conversations on how to reposition the development and scaling of agricultural technologies and innovations to drive economic growth and development in Africa.
Recognizing the aspirations for Africa’s agricultural transformation as elaborated in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); as re-affirmed in the commitments of Malabo Declaration in 2014 and further mainstreamed in Agenda 2063, the Africa We Want, and aligned with the Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024;
Acknowledge with deep concern the low level of Africa’s investment in Research & Development as a proportion of GDP which stands at 0.5%, way below the world average of 1.8 % and which consequently translates into slow pace of research in critical sectors such as Agriculture;
Appreciating the critical role that the agricultural sector, including livestock production plays in supporting livelihoods, industrial and economic growth across the continent;
Recalling the centrality of science and technology in driving agricultural productivity hence pivoting socio-economic development and rural transformation translating to national prosperity and Africa’s collective food and nutrition security;
Further recalling the commitment made during the Second Africa-wide conference on Science Technology and Innovation (STI) convened in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and AUDA-NEPAD in Kigali-Rwanda in April 2022 towards intensifying efforts on commercialization and deployment of technologies for the benefit of local communities;
Recognizing the many challenges that the youth, women, and people living with disabilities engaged in agriculture on the continent face, including limited access to opportunities, technologies and productivity enhancing resources;
Noting that Africa spends substantial amounts of financial resources importing food, yet through adoption of technologies, there is great potential for increasing productivity to reduce the import burden while also facilitating intra-Africa trade;
Equally Noting the urgent need to build farmer resilience in Africa, considering that agricultural production and food systems in the continent are highly vulnerable to climate change, armed conflict, social and political instability as well as commodity-supply related shocks such as fertilizer, foreign exchange and fuel crises;
Regretting that the face of African agriculture outlook is still characterized by rudimentary traditional tools as such as the handheld hoe, the abysmally low penetration of agricultural mechanization that has stagnated at below 10% of its full potential, and low attraction of farming to youth;
Mindful of the lessons gained from past and present efforts and the compelling need to forge an African-centered approach to transformation through development and deployment of technological solutions adapted to local conditions;
Appreciating the good progress made on the continent in establishing policies, strategies, plans, laws, regulations and institutional arrangements to facilitate technological advancement in the agricultural sector, including slow but on-going efforts at domestication and implementation of policy instruments;
Appreciating also that substantial resources have been invested in research and development of agricultural innovations, through which multiple products and crop varieties are aligned for release in readiness for deployment and commercialization;
Concerned that in addition to the less friendly regulatory environment for technology release, the commercialization, deployment, and adoption of crop varieties is extremely slow due to limited funding for scaling of technologies;
Appreciating the important role that the private sector can play in driving agricultural research and development, which has not been fully exploited given the challenging operational environment and insufficient incentives;
Noting that the world is entering the fifth industrial revolution that will be driven by great technological innovations where quantum computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things and systems, advanced biotechnology, big data analytics, precision farming, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and 5G network connectivity;
Noting the huge potential of biotechnology innovations such as genetic modification (GM) and genome editing in enhancing agricultural production and productivity and improving the health and wealth of our people; yet the development and commercialization of related applications continues to be derailed by prohibitive regulatory environments and resistance fueled by disinformation;
We, participants of the inaugural African Conference on Agricultural Technologies:
- Encourage African governments, regional economic communities, and continental bodies and organs to sustain the dialogues and actions to fast- track agricultural technology deployment while integrating Science Technology and Innovations in their respective development frameworks.
- Appeal for commitment of funding to support STI as affirmed in 2016 by African Heads of State in the Lagos Plan of Action to increase science and technology budgets to at least 1% of GDP by 2025 and the commitment to increase the budget allocation to the agricultural sector to at least 10% of the budget in line with the Malabo Declaration.
- Call for concerted efforts to urgently address the negative impact of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) opposing novel technological innovations including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Africa through constructive dialogues and objective engagements, supported by scientific evidence. There is need to navigate away from defending science and instead embrace strategic and transparent communication to effectively counter dis- information.
- Commit to collaborate towards identifying and engaging a critical mass of high-level agricultural technology ambassadors to serve as the voice of the continent on matters related to the development and deployment of Agricultural technologies.
- Call for consistent and strategic engagement of all critical stakeholders especially the private sector, farmers, and gender groups towards co-creation of innovations and participatory policy making processes, technology development, commercialization, and deployment of agricultural technologies.
- Stress the importance of creating a functional enabling environment and sufficient incentives to facilitate research, development and commercialization of agricultural innovations and establishment of a functional private sector.
- Reiterate the need for investment in functions that are critical for supporting commercialization and adoption of agricultural technologies including reinvigorating extension services, creating efficient markets and elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers;
- Call upon the AU to formally recognize and engage institutions that have excelled in the field of development and deployment of agricultural technologies such as AATF as their technical arms on agricultural technology matters.
- Endorse the recognition and adoption of ACAT as the continent-wide biennial forum that will showcase emerging technologies and innovations, promote networking and shared learning, and unlock access to technology and its delivery.
- Commit to sustain engagement on agricultural technology in between ACAT editions through organizing and engaging in Strategic Dialogues in Agricultural Technology in Africa (SDATA) to foster discussions within and across the following strategic groups: the youth, ministers, researchers, the private sector, and farmers.
- Resolve to meet again in Kigali, Rwanda from 19 – 23 May, 2025 to take stock of the progress made against the commitments herein agreed to.
We, ACAT participants,
Recognize and appreciate the commitment of the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and AATF Goodwill Ambassador on Agricultural Technologies, H.E Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; and Appreciate the President and the people of Kenya for their hospitality and hosting the ACAT 2023 edition.