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article imageKofi Anan given award at 1st African Green Revolution Forum

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 2, 2010 in World
Accra - The former head of the United Nations was honoured Thursday at the first annual Africa Green Revolution Forum, hosted by Ghana.
Kofi Anan was given the Borlaug Medallion by the World Food Prize Foundation announced the Africa Green Revolution Forum in a press release. The Ghana News Agency reported many dignitaries were on hand for the opening of the Forum, including heads of state from other African countries and representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Both foundations have been funding research into the development of genetically modified food crops for Africa.
The Green Revolution Forum will run until September 4th. The Forum is to promote African agriculture with an aim towards encouraging policies and investments "... for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way. The Forum, which stems from the African Green Revolution Conference in Oslo, is a private-sector led initiative which will bring together African heads of state, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, NGOs, civil society and scientists, to discuss and develop concrete investment plans for achieving the green revolution in Africa." Kofi Anan is chairing the Forum.
Ghana's Vice-President John Dramani Mahama helped to open the Forum Thursday, urging other African leaders to put money into agriculture. "All our agricultural programmes need substantial political backing to get the continent out of perpetual poverty, hunger and disease." Mahama also said "Sustainable Green Revolution is feasible to tackle poverty and government will continue to partner AGRA to make food available in the entire continent."
Kofi Anan has said the Forum is not a conference or a meeting, but is instead a call to action. Anan has said each African country would need to invest at least $32 million each year to stimulate food production that would sustain the population.
The Borlaug Medallion honours the father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, who worked to find a way for burgeoning populations to feed themselves. The World Food Prize Foundation explained in a press release announcing the awarding of the Borlaug Medallion to Kofi Anan that the prize is given once a year to "... world leaders whose actions have benefited mankind but who would not normally be eligible for the World Food Prize."
Kofi Anan was selected for the award because, explained Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, “Over the past decade, no one has done more than Kofi Anan to bring attention to the critical issue of global food security around the world nor in fulfilling Norman Borlaug's dream of bringing the Green Revolution to Africa."
Kofi Anan said “We have left farmers to sink or swim without help for far too long. After decades of neglect, agriculture has returned to the development agenda. Now it is time to bring together the many players – from farmers to CEOs – to achieve rapid, large-scale results that will put an end to hunger and poverty.”
That agriculture is once again on the agenda is largely due to Kofi Anan's efforts. When he served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a position he held for nine years, his leadership saw the creation of the "... Millennium Development Goals, a strategy to meet the needs of the world's poorest by 2015. One of the eight identified goals is to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger." One of the specific targets the UN hopes to meet is to "halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger."" Kofi Anan had previously been recognized for his work in these areas when he was given the Nobel Prize along with the United Nations in 2001.
Anan is the Chairman of the Board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). "AGRA works to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers" explains the AGRA website. Women are the majority of Africa's smallholders, and they produce most of Africa's food. AGRA wants to assist smallholders achieve agricultural success by ensuring they "... have what they need to succeed: good seeds and healthy soils; access to markets, information, financing, storage and transport; and policies that provide them with comprehensive support."
AGRA has three goals it seeks to achieve by 2020: "Reduce food insecurity by 50 percent in at least 20 countries; Double the incomes of 20 million smallholder families; Put at least 15 countries on track for attaining and sustaining a uniquely African Green Revolution: one which supports smallholder farmers, protects the environment, and helps farmers adapt to climate change."
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has highlighted a story on Ghana's agricultural success on the Foundation's website, noting that "Ghana is now on track to become the first country in Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger from 1990 levels."
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