VIRTUAL EVENT: Embedding Resilience into African Agriculture

VIRTUAL EVENT: Embedding Resilience into African Agriculture

18-20 November 2020. 7th Annual ReNAPRI Stakeholder Conference 2020. The Great Reset: Embedding Resilience into African Agriculture.

The Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI) is a regionally coordinated group of national agricultural policy research institutes duly established and operating in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region.

The purpose of the conference is to create a platform for strategic dialogue and evidence-based guidance. An evidence-based understanding of agricultural value-chain development and trade policy impacts can assist African governments, private firms and civil society groups to anticipate and respond proactively to the emerging challenges in the region.

18/11 Session 1 Reflection: Impact of Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Systems: what we know and don’t know

The Task Force on Food and Nutrition Security Data and Hunger Hotspots During COVID-19 launched under the auspices of the Regional Food Trade Coalition, hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), commissioned a study, aimed at identifying gaps in relation to our understanding of what is working (or not working) to address the impacts of the pandemic on regional food trade, food and nutrition security, and efforts to build inclusive and resilient food value chains. 

The objective of this session was to present the initial findings of the comprehensive evidence synthesis study and ground-truth the results through key stakeholder engagement. Specific questions addressed by the comprehensive evidence synthesis are: 
  • What are the impacts of policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic on regional food trade, food and nutrition security, and resilience of food value chains? 
  • Which policy measures are working? 
  • To what extent are the measures undertaken by government and multilateral organizations gender inclusive and resilience focused? 
  • What are the gaps in our understanding?
  • Moderators: Dr. Nalishebo MeebeloSenior Program Coordinator, ReNAPRI and Co-chair AGRA Task Force Dr. Antoine BouëtIFPRI Co-chair AGRA Task Force
  • Dr. Andrew Agyei-Holmes Research Director, ISSER, Ghana (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Ayala WinemanPost-Doctoral Research Associate, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington 
  • Dr. John Olwande Research Director, Tegemeo, Kenya (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Tinashe KapuyaResearch Director, BFAP, South Africa (ReNAPRI)
  • Poorva PandyaCEO, Export Trading Group (ETG
  • Joel Okwir Agriculture Economist, COMESA 
  • Daniel Njiwa Head of Regional Food Trade at AGRA 
  • Dr. Medhat El-Helepi Agriculture and Business Enabling Environment, Private Sector Development and Finance Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA
  • Marcella McClatcheyProgram Officer, BMGF 
  • Watipaso MkandawireFCDO DfID

  • Comprehensive evidence synthesis of the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic (and associated policy responses) on Food Systems and food security in Sub Saharan Africa (not yet published)

18/11 Session 2 Reimagine: Building Resilient Value-Chains for inclusive agricultural transformation

African agri-food systems need to transform. Currently, African agri-SMES are of three distinct types: (1) “Elephants – a small number of large registered firms that dominate their sectors; (2) “Gazelles” – corresponding to less than 10% of all agribusiness enterprises, the ones with relatively high productivity and capacity to grow; and (3) “Survival” businesses – mostly self-employed, part-time, informal one-person or household businesses with low productivity, low capacity to scale-up, and earnings barely above the poverty line. 

African economies will transform more rapidly and sustainably when value-chain upgrading can be achieved, absorbing survival entrepreneurs into productive formal sector agribusiness firms. The challenge for African agri-food system development is how to attract and develop more gazelles. In this session, ReNAPRI focused on practical ways by which African governments and development partners can: 
  • Promote a favorable enabling environment for private investment (through trade policies, sectoral policies, ease of doing business, costs of capital, etc); 
  • Provide high-impact public goods investments; and 
  • How impact investors can contribute to value-chain upgrading through identifying and supporting the gazelles.
  • Moderator: William ChadzaActing Executive Director, MwAPATA 
  • Keynote Presentation: Prof. Thom Jayne Michigan State University, (ReNAPRI)
  • Dr. Louise Fox Former Chief Scientist, World Bank 
  • Alvaro Valverde Relationship Manager, CASA 
    Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness Programme (CASA), which is a 5-year and £30 million programme financed by the UK Department for International Development. His work involves: developing and managing CABI’s Private Sector Engagement and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) strategy and portfolio.
  • Dr. Martin Fregene Director, Department of Agriculture and Agro-industry, African Development Bank AFDB
  • Dr. Edward MabayaSenior Research Associate, Department of Global Development, Cornell University, US
    “Cut the donor dependency of the gazelles
Resources: CASA Programme

  • Bridging Demand and Supply: CASA (2020) Bridging demand and supply of private investment capital FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM AGRIBUSINESSES T.S. Jayne, Richard Ferguson, Sloans Chimatiro September 2020. 56 pages. 
  • Investor Survey: CASA (2020) Opportunities, Challenges and Evidence Needs for Investing in Smallholder Farming CASA Research Brief 01. 8 pages.
  • ICTs for Agribusiness Investability: CASA (2020) Information and Communication Technologies FOR IMPROVING INVESTMENT READINESS OF SMALL AND MEDIUM AGRIBUSINESSES Alvaro Valverde, September 2020. 74 pages  
  • Technical Assistance: CASA (2020) A Review of Inclusive Technical Assistance in Agriculture Deployed by Development Finance Institutions June 2020. 26 pages 
  • Effectiveness of Agribusiness Incubation
  • CASA (2020) Effectiveness of agri-business incubation IN EMERGING MARKETS September 2020 
  • The Underserved Middle: CASA (2020) The Underserved Middle: Defining excluded enterprises in agricultural value chains RESEARCH BRIEF October 2020. 15 pages 

19/11 Session 3 Reimagine: Elephants, gazelles and survival entrepreneurs: Promoting dynamic transformation in African Agricultural Value Chains

Building Resilient Value-Chains for inclusive agricultural transformation Drawing on work that some of the network members have engaged over the past year, the session considers a combination of tools utilized for a market led value chain analysis approach. It presents poultry as a case study, focuses on market aspects and evaluates the current and projected future demand for poultry in the region, as well as the structure and resilience of domestic value chains in supplying this demand. Continuous development of such tools is critical to inform investments and policy decisions that shape market led, inclusive agricultural transformation. 

  • Moderator: Prof. Ferdi Meyer Managing Director: Bureau of Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Lilian KirimiResearch Director, Tegemeo Institute (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Zena MpendaResearch Director, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Tracy DavidsManagers, Markets Division: Bureau of Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), (ReNAPRI) 
  • Antony M’barine Policy and Strategy Office, Executive Office of the President 
  • John MachariaCountry Manager-Kenya, AGRA 
  • Dr. Emanuele Ferrari Research Officer, European Commission, Joint Research Center (JRC)

19/11 Session 4 Reset: AfCFTA: A journey to self-reliance in an age of uncertainty

Through the AfCFTA, Africa has the opportunity to: expedite the development of regional value chains that will boost Intra-African trade by at least 50% (UNECA); increase the competitiveness of African industry (TRALAC, 2019); and meet the continent’s growing food demand, which is projected to reach USD 1 Trillion by 2030 (AfDB, 2018). However, if Africa is to realize this potential, there are challenges that will need to be addressed.

  • Given the REC’s patterns of comparative advantage and export potential for agriculture, forestry and fishery products traded within Africa, are the requisite preferential tariff concessions and rules of origin negotiations in place to facilitate trade? 
  • What are some concrete ways in which AfCFTA can boost trade and investments along regional value chains? 
  • What policy actions are needed at the REC’s and/or country level to promote a favorable enabling environment for private investment in trade and regional value-chains? 
  • Moderator: Dr. Antony Chapoto Research Director, IAPRI (ReNAPRI) 
  • Keynote Presentation: Ms. Lulama Ndibongo Traub Research Director, BFAP, South Africa (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Isaac Kanyama Research Director, IRES, Democratic Republic of the Congo (ReNAPRI)or: 
  • Ms. Orcidia Chiziane Research Director, CEPPAG, Mozambique (ReNAPRI) 
  • Dr. Emmanuel Mwakiwa Research Director, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe (ReNAPRI) 
  • Gerald MasilaCEO, East African Grain Council (EAGC
  • Wandile SihloboChief Economist, AgBiz Chambers 
  • Dr. John Mukuka CEO, ACTESA-COMESA 
  • Albert HalwampaManager for Export Development, Zambia Development Agency 
  • Dr. Holger Matthey Economist, Trade and Markets Division, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) 

19/11 Session 5  Reflect: Road to Abuja II: next steps

This webinar deliberated on preparations needed to build the foundation for the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan, including the key areas of research and development of white papers, and consensus building among stakeholders. Some of the key issues that the proposed Abuja II Fertilizer Summit needs to address include the following: 

  • Making appropriate fertilizers available and affordable to a broad base of farmers in contexts of diverse soil conditions 
  • Mechanisms for financing investments in the fertilizer industry 
  • Policy ‘best practices’ for building efficient and inclusive input markets 
  • Soil nutrient management through proper agronomic practices  


  • Moderator: Prof. Richard Mkandawire  
  • Keynote – Prof. Rattan Lal 2020 World Food Prize Laureate
  • Elizabeth NsimadalaPresident, Pan African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) 
  • Prof. Pedro Sanchez 2002 World Food Prize Laureate 
  • Dr. Shamie ZingoreDirector, Research & Development, African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) 
  • Dr. Hambulo NgomaResearch Fellow, IAPRI (ReNAPRI)

20/11 Virtual Dialogue on Recovery of Regional Grain Trade Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the leading provider of jobs, livelihoods and food, the grain sector is at the heart of the COVID-19 debate in SubSaharan Africa. The sector has been affected by reduced trade due to movement restrictions within and between countries, higher transaction costs and slow-down in consumption as household incomes dwindled during the pandemic, and divergence in policy responses by individual countries in the region.
  • A better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on downstream and upstream grain value chain activities 
  • A synthesis of practical short term, medium term, and long-term interventions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and improve resilience of regional grain trade value chains, which will inform post-pandemic recovery strategies at national, regional, and continental level.

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