Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC and Dr Agnes Kalibata, the President of AGRA
The Commonwealth Secretariat and AGRA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will leverage digital innovations to help transform smallholder agriculture across Africa.
The MoU aims to bolster agricultural production and trade through the harmonisation of agricultural data systems at the national level using a Digital Public Infrastructure model (DPI). During the recent Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting, a unanimous agreement centred on the development of resilient DPIs as a backbone for intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
Under the MoU, the Commonwealth will help facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues on ‘National Agricultural Data Infrastructure (NAgDI)’ and capacity building on ‘National Digital Agriculture Strategies’ in selected countries in Africa, as part of a suite of strategic initiatives.
The NAgDI is a model of DPI being designed to support member countries to better manage their agricultural data. The MoU was signed by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC and Dr Agnes Kalibata, the President of AGRA at COP28, the UN climate change summit taking place in Dubai. In her address, the Secretary-General expressed admiration for AGRA’s longstanding achievements in Africa. The organisation focuses on scaling up agricultural innovations that help smallholder farmers increase their incomes and livelihoods and improve food security.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General said: “The long-standing spirit of cooperation in the Commonwealth positions us to play a crucial role in supporting member countries to harness the power of data to ensure sovereignty over how the digital assets are handled.”
“By collaborating with organisations, such as AGRA, who are doing important work on the ground with governments, communities and smallholder farmers the Commonwealth can help to reduce duplication and improve impact,” she added.
Dr Kalibata said: “This partnership will complement our efforts to advocate for and advance Africa’s food systems transformation for people and the planet. It builds on our strengths to foster synergy to inspire action, attract investment and reform policies for improved livelihoods in a sustainable, inclusive and resilient environment.”
“Working together, we can strengthen South-South collaboration in advancing global dialogues on climate action, trade, investments and digitization, complementing our recent engagements with IICA, Grow Asia, UAE and Barbados,” she added.
With 21 member states in Africa, the Commonwealth aims to use this MoU to collaborate closely with AGRA to bolster support for these nations while advancing intra-Commonwealth knowledge sharing. The MoU signing marks a new phase of collaboration between the Commonwealth and AGRA to tackle significant agricultural challenges across Africa.
The implementation plan outlined within the MoU directly addresses these challenges, emphasising both organisations’ shared commitment to fostering sustainable development and growth on the continent.
The Commonwealth champions a flagship programme on food system transformation, steered by the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. With a policy-driven approach, the Commonwealth aims to advance the impact of digital innovations in African agriculture through the facilitation of the enabling environment for digitalisation.