AfDB pledges affirmative climate finance action to boost agriculture business for women

02/12/2015
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“It is amazing that many women in Africa continue to use hoes to till the soil in their small-scale farms in this age of technological advancement,” Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said Tuesday as she addressed officials at the launch of the African Renewable Energy Initiative at COP21 in Paris, France.

“We are calling on the President of the African Development Bank to ensure that the use of such archaic working tools for women becomes history,” Zuma said Tuesday.

The good news is that the African Development Bank had in store plan for a transformational change for women that will make the use of rudimentary working tools still used by many poor communities in Africa a thing of the past.

Climate-related disasters are taking a big toll on agriculture production, particularly in Africa, and women remain the biggest victims of these extreme climate conditions, given their key role in agriculture production, said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

He warned that if concrete actions are not taken to protect the women farmers and their businesses, the effects of climate change can wipe out decades of development gains and put food security in peril in Africa.

“Agriculture remains Africa’s economic mainstay, contributing significantly to the GDP of many countries. The success of the outcome of COP21 will not be obtained without any concrete action addressing issues of agriculture in Africa,” Adesina pointed out at the African Pavillon launch on Tuesday December 1, 2015.

It is against this backdrop that Adesina announced “Affirmative Finance Action for Women”, a new AfDB initiative to support women in agriculture and agri-business and to boost the resilience of this vulnerable group.

The impacts of climate change, Adesina said, was intensifying with droughts and floods affecting ecosystems and food and water supplies in Africa putting the agricultural activities of women in difficulties and thus depriving of solid economic footing.

Economic losses from disasters have increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, he noted. The hardest-hit are poor people, including small-scale farmers, especially women.

“As climate impacts increase, we see women and children virtually helpless. It is time we find lasting solutions to these challenges,” Adesina said. "It is imperative that we strengthen resilience and build the adaptive capacities of women by providing financial support to agri-business initiatives.”

AfDB announced the establishment of a US $300 million facility to de-risk financing to women owned-businesses by commercial banks and microfinance institutions in order to boost innovative agriculture projects by women.

“Agriculture is a business and we must address the challenges involved from a business perspective,” Adesina continued.

African officials at COP21 are pledging to foster partnerships and mobilize new international support for people-oriented agricultural business projects for the future. They called for a comprehensive programme in agriculture to address the continent’s climate change challenges.

President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin highlighted the need for an ambitious agreement to address challenges facing the agriculture sector in Africa.

“The future of the world depends on Africa, the world’s breadbasket, with its huge food production potential. Energy and water is therefore important in transforming Africa’s agriculture, the mainstay of most of its economies,” Boni Yayi said.