African leaders call for greater role for Agriculture in Africa’s transformation, commend AfDB’s Africa50 Fund

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African leaders have called for a greater role for Agriculture in Africa’s transformation, echoing the strategic directions set by the African Development Bank in its 2013-2022 Ten Year Strategy.

Speaking at the 23rd African Union Heads of State and Government Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 26-27 June 2014, under the theme “Agriculture and Food Security”, African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said Africa’s agriculture was critical for Africa’s transformation.

For his part, the Chairperson of the African Union, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, commended the African Development Bank’s Africa50 Fund as a new, credible and innovative vehicle for ensuring that the vision and goals of the Africa Agenda 2063 are achieved.

Official Development assistance to agriculture has remained constant at four per cent of total ODA over the past two decades. There is an urgent need for private investments in the sector, and need for Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to support these investments. Between 1998 and 2008, DFIs invested about US$ 12 billion in agriculture through private sector channels. The AfDB was the leading DFI in Africa, contributing seven per cent, almost US$1 billion, of total DFI investments in agriculture. Africa50 Fund is likely to make an important contribution in that regard.

Africa’s transformation through improved agriculture is at the heart of the African Development Bank’s Ten Year Strategy for 2013-2022.

According to Aly Abou-Sabaa, AfDB’s vice president in charge of Agriculture, Water, Human Development, Governance and Natural Resources, who was attending the AU high level debate on “Transforming Africa's Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”, the AfDB has put in place the appropriate framework to implement most of the AU commitments for Africa’s Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation Goals 2025.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting Abou-Sabaa made a series of recommendations in order to ensure long-term transformation of Africa’s agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.

These recommendations include:

  • Consideration of agriculture as a business and no more as a development activity per se;
  • An imperative to boost agricultural research and technology;
  • Continued investment in agricultural infrastructure including processing and the imperative of the value chain approach;
  • The imperative of policy reforms to accompany agricultural market access and transformation;
  • Greater attention to crop processing zones to bring industry closer to the farms;
  • Investing in women since most farmers are women;
  • Responding to the Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture;
  • The imperative of improved productivity to attract the youth into agriculture and agri-business; and
  • The imperative of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for better food and nutrition security.

AfDB will utilize several levers to promote Africa's agriculture transformation.

First, AfDB’s new Agriculture Sector Strategy for 2015-19 will embody a value chain approach in line with the institution’s Ten-Year Strategy for 2013-2022 aimed at promoting inclusive growth on the continent.

The AfDB will support innovative technologies to assist with the development of value chains within the sector and its commercialisation. It will also promote agricultural commodity exchanges and improve access to finance for agricultural SMEs. The strategy will also help improve capacity building, such as providing specific vocational training to farmers and agricultural produce dealers. The AfDB will also encourage mobile information services allowing farmers to collect valuable data. It will also promote best practices for investments in land, ensuring private investments benefit rural communities. Above all, the AfDB will pay greater attention to gender mainstreaming in its operations.

The Bank will rely on its shared commitment, through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, to achieve inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years.

In addition, the AfDB will play its role in increasing capital flows into Agriculture financing in Africa, through its own financing or strategic partnerships.

The Bank will also continue its efforts to raise the productivity, revenue and incomes of smallholder farmers, including women, by facilitating their access to markets.