Former UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, has been appointed as the first Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.
A statement received in Accra on Thursday from the Alliance said Mr. Annan in his acceptance speech at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town said he hoped to use this position to help drive forward progress on issues critical to Africa's development.
He stated: "I am honoured today to take up this important post and join my fellow Africans in a new effort to comprehensively tackle the challenges holding back …millions of small-scale farmers in Africa."
Mr. Annan noted that Africa was the only region where overall food security and livelihoods were deteriorating.
He said: “We will reverse this trend by working to create an environmentally sustainable, uniquely African Green Revolution. When our poorest farmers finally prosper, all of Africa will benefit.”
The Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa was established last year with the vision of helping millions of small-scale farmers and their families across Africa to alleviate poverty and hunger through sustainable increase in farm productivity and incomes.
The statement said the Nairobi-based Alliance was established with an initial 150 million dollars grant from Bill and Melinda gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
It would work throughout the continent on a wide range of interventions across the agricultural “value chain” ranging from strengthening local and regional agricultural markets to help improve irrigation, soil health and training for farmers to supporting the development of new seed systems better equipped to cope with the harsh African climate.
Ms Judith Rodin, President of Rockefeller Foundation, who welcomed Mr Annan said, in the past 15 years the number of Africans living below the poverty line had increased by 50 per cent and per capita food production had declined.
She said: "In the past five years alone, the number of underweight children in Africa has risen by 12 per cent."
She noted that the cause of this entrenched and deepening poverty was the fact that millions of the small-scale farmers, mostly women, could not grow enough food to sustain their families, communities and their countries as a whole.
As Chairman of the Board of the Alliance, Mr. Annan would travel regularly throughout Africa to meet with farmers, entrepreneurs, scientists and political leaders to discuss and promote the work of the Alliance.