Yara organized a mini-seminar on smallholder agriculture in Africa in the new headquarters in Oslo on Monday 19 May. The aim - present and debate current perspectives on what is required to close the yield gap and boost African smallholder agriculture in a sustainable way.
The African continent stands out as a priority for Yara. Through various cooperation channels, such as the African Green Revolution Forum, the Ghana Grains Partnership, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the Grow Africa Initiative and the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), the company contributes to green growth through the promotion of sustainable agriculture.
On that note, emphasizing the role Yara plays on the African continent and in ensuring progress, a mini-seminar was organized, inviting key stakeholders to discuss the topic of smallholder agriculture in Africa in the context of sustainable intensification.
A pressing issue
Responsible for Yara’s Global Initiatives, Øystein Botillen points at how smallholder productivity must be boosted: “The fact that the Yara Prize Committee is gathered in Oslo to select the winner of this year’s Yara Prize also gives us an opportunity to engage a larger group of Norwegian organizations. The topic, sustainable intensification of smallholder agriculture, is one of the most pressing issues facing the African continent today.”
“Yield gaps are pervasive in smallholder agriculture, and are large for almost all crops in all regions. It is widely acknowledged that poor soil fertility and nutrient availability are the major biophysical limitations to agricultural production in the continent,” Øystein says.
“It is vital to find solutions to the challenges faced by African smallholders today, as they are critical for continued growth, further development, peace and stability in Africa. This also has spillover effects on the global food system, with its increasing focus on Africa for future food and nutrition security,” Øystein continues.
Scaling up to realize inclusive growth
Yara had invited a knowledgeable team of panelists to discuss these issues, such as Jeroen Huising, Senior Soil Scientist with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Odd Arnesen, Senior Advisor, Norad as well as Yara’s own Joachim Lammel, Senior Scientist, Research Center Hanninghof.
Yara Prize Committee member, former President of Mekelle University in Ethiopia, and Deputy Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia at UNESCO Dr. Mitiku Haile shared his experiences based on many years of work in the Ethiopian highlands. In addition to these experts in the field, Yara’s CEO Jørgen Ole Haslestad gave an introductory statement encouraging the panelists to share insights on how to trigger growth.
“There has been tremendous progress over the past years, with the private sector committing to invest more than USD 5 billion in agriculture. We must however continue to scale up, and maintain dedicated to have these investments create equitable, inclusive growth,” says Haslestad.
Later this year in Addis Ababa, Yara will celebrate the 2014 edition of the Yara Prize, recognizing significant contributions to the reduction of hunger and poverty in Africa. The Prize honors endeavors that increase food productivity, security or availability through improvements in food systems, advancements in sustainable agriculture and development of local markets – and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.