14 November 2007

Annan-founded alliance for African agriculture names first president

Wed Nov 14, 5:56 AM ET

NAIROBI (AFP) - A foundation set up by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to aid African farmers named Wednesday its first president, agricultural expert Amos Namanga Ngongi from Cameroon.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) brings together farmers, scientists, governments, the private sector and civil society with the aim of boosting the productivity and incomes of millions of small-scale farmers by supporting sustainable, innovative agricultural practices.

"There is no acceptable reason for Africa's farmers to be poor," an AGRA press release quoted Ngongi as saying.

"Working with their many allies, farmers can move beyond mere subsistence farming. With access to the needed tools and technologies and with responsible stewardship of our natural resources, we can bring prosperity to Africa's farmers and their families."

Annan, who founded AGRA in 2006 and chairs its board, described Ngongi as "a man of vision, dedicated to the eradication of hunger and poverty.

"He knows the vital importance of agricultural development, and that ambitious goals inspire the energy and will necessary to achieve them."

Ngongi began his career as an agricultural officer in Cameroon, going on to become deputy head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and later leading the peace-keeping mission in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo for the United Nations.

AGRA programmes to date include efforts to develop new varieties of food crops, support for agricultural education, improving seed distribution networks and markets for poor farmers.

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