Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa has a new president

Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Jane Karuku is the new president of the Nairobi headquartered Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
She was appointed to that position by Kofi Annan who is the organization’s chair on April 10 . Karuku took over from Dr Namanga Ngongi who is retiring after five years at the helm.
She joined AGRA from Telkom Kenya, a subsidiary of France Telecom-Orange where she has been Deputy Chief Executive, after an exhaustive international search process.
“Hundreds of thousands of poor rural households in Africa have already benefited from AGRA’s work and under Karuku’s leadership we can look forward to continued success in moving African farmers along a path to prosperity and ensuring food security,” said Annan in a press release.
Karuku has a career spanning over 20 years, most of which has been spent in the agricultural sector holding senior positions in a number of successful international corporate entities including Farmers Choice and Cadbury Limited where she served as the managing director with responsibility for 14 countries in the East and Central African region.  .
“Smallholder farming is a way of life in Africa, full of challenges and equally full of huge opportunities. I am very excited and feel privileged to be part of the journey to transform the lives of millions of smallholder farmers, and look forward to when we can look back and celebrate this transformation as a ‘gift’ to the people of Africa and its future generations,” said Karuku.
Annan also acknowledged the tremendous work done Ngongi in establishing AGRA as a leading African agricultural organization.
“I would like to thank Dr Namanga Ngongi for his role in building AGRA into a widely recognized and effective organization. Under his leadership, AGRA has made significant achievements and is already firmly on track to achieve its mission of catalysing the achievement of a green revolution in Africa.”
Founded in 2007 with initial funding and technical support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AGRA has since added numerous other international foundations, donor agencies, multilateral financial institutions, corporate donors and banks. AGRA and its funding partners work closely with governments in Africa, farmer organizations and smallholder farmers in a formidable alliance to develop and nurture an African green revolution.
AGRA has been working to enhance the economic empowerment of African smallholder farmers and improving food security and has contributed towards efforts to address critical challenges affecting agriculture in Africa.
So far, the organisation’s key achievements include the development of strategies to turn key African countries into breadbaskets that can feed the whole of the African continent.  It has also supported advanced education of the next generation of plant and soil scientists and has sponsored nearly 100 MSc and PhD students in several African universities.
It has also supported the establishment and strengthening of 60 new local African seed companies and is helping to develop markets in Africa and works with farmer associations to ensure that smallholder farmers meet quality standards and effectively manage contractual agreements with large buyers. 
In collaboration with several major financial partners, AGRA has established risk sharing facilities that are leveraging millions of dollars in affordable loans for smallholder farmers and small to medium-sized agribusinesses across Africa.

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