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Yohei Sasakawa
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Congratulations on the 35th Anniversary of Sasakawa Africa Association [2021/12/01]
The Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) is celebrating its 35th anniversary by holding special ceremonies in its four focus countries−Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda−in November and December.

In a video message I recorded for the first of those functions on November 1, I expressed my sincere respect for SAA’s efforts over 35 years to improve the livelihood of millions of smallholder farmers across the continent struggling to avoid the poverty trap. “No other organization has consistently provided agricultural assistance in various parts of Africa for so long as SAA.”

SAA was established in 1986 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, and my late father Ryoichi Sasakawa, the first chairman of The Nippon Foundation, in the wake of the devastating famine that ravaged the Horn of Africa in 1984-85.

Over the years, SAA has worked in 15 countries across the continent with the support of The Nippon Foundation. Currently, it has country offices in the four focus countries with a Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) program also operating in seven additional countries to provide leadership for building human resource capacity in agricultural extension.

As a core donor, the foundation has provided over US$300 million in support of its programs−an unprecedented figure from a donor to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) on a continuous basis, according to SAA’s 2020 annual report released in July this year.

In my message, I also welcomed a new Strategic Plan (2021-2025) SAA has drawn up to better address the changing trends in agriculture, including the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on food systems and SAA’s activities, with travel to and between African countries seriously restricted.

The limitations imposed by COVID-19 have affected most of SAA’s activities along the crop value chain, including access to extension and advisory services, input and output markets, financial services and labor availability as well as learning activities at universities and agricultural colleges under SAFE.

In developing the strategy, which was approved by the SAA board and The Nippon Foundation, consultations involving SAA staff, partners and stakeholders “identified ways in which SAA could realign its operations to solve the issues facing smallholder farmers today,” the annual report said.

The strategy calls for realizing its aspiration for a resilient and sustainable food system by, among other things, working with African smallholder farmers to increase their food, nutrition, and income security by catalyzing technological innovation in agriculture and to attain market-oriented agriculture for ensuring farming as a business.

I told the ceremony participants it is a wonderful new strategy that fully reflects SAA’s experience, wisdom, and passion, but there will always be unexpected difficulties. It was at such times, I said, that we need to show our resolve, as we have done in the past, and overcome them.

"I strongly hope that you will continue to cooperate across countries and organizations for the future of agriculture in Africa,” I said. “If we can join forces and work together, we can make the lives of people in Africa more prosperous and bring about a more hopeful Africa.”

My video message is available at The Nippon Foundation YouTube.

SAA’s annual report 2020 can be seen here.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:20 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)