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Using technology to maximize productivity with a view to attracting the youth and enable them efficiently gain optimal results in agricultural and agribusiness in Africa was the focus of an interactive two-day discussion launched Monday July 6, 2015 in Abidjan, between the African Development Bank Group and the Netherlands-based Centre for Promotion of Exports from Developing Countries (CBI).
Themed “A knowledge-driven one-stop-shop programme for improved productivity, transparent and effective regional and global agricultural trade,” the two parties shared perspectives on agriculture trade investments and agreed on specific areas for mutual cooperation. The discussions provided an opportunity for the AfDB to gain extensive insights into the processes behind the design, development and implementation of such a platform, as well as determine the level and scope of technical support that may be required from CBI for the platform.
Expectations are high and include achieving Bank-wide consensus on the different levels of the target market; agreeing on a comprehensive list of constraints to be addressed by the platform; sequencing the project in relation to resources required and incentivizing Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to be involved in the pilot project.
Several presentations were delivered and discussed, among others, on CBI’s work in Africa; AfDB selecting the agricultural sub-sectors for the platform; AfDB’s priority commodities for support under its news Agriculture and Agribusiness Strategy covering the period 2015-2019; Why a market intelligence platform?; The role of market researchers and sector experts; and the Bank’s Regional Integration Policy and Strategy.
It was also demonstrated that access to new and better-paying markets for agriculture products is vital in enhancing and diversifying the livelihoods of producers and exporters. Markets can be domestic, regional or global; each demanding multiple obligations and measures.
Presentations particularly focused on the future of women in agriculture trade and value chains; youth and employment in agriculture and agro-industry; cultural constraints of women regarding property rights; as well as fragility.
Speaking on the occasion, the Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, presented the Bank’s Strategy on Gender, linking it to the objectives of the meeting.
African Development Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Director, Chiji Ojukwu, summed up the Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Strategy, emphasizing areas related to rural infrastructure, agribusiness innovation and resilience building and natural resource management. “Agriculture is beginning to change. It is a business and the youth should be fully involved in it,” he said. “We need to demonstrate that, through technology, we can improve productivity. We want to show the youth something concrete to enable them do business and use our resources to create wealth,” he added.
Sharing perspectives on the new agriculture and agro-industry strategy, Ken Johm, Lead Agricultural Economist, explained that the Bank wants to give substance to commercial agriculture, promote value chains through research and market access, promote regional commodity markets, agricultural governance and innovation.
Asked to what extent strong links to market for rural producers can generate growth and reduce hunger, AfDB Lead Agricultural Expert, Benedict Kanu, observed that agriculture is a productive sector that relies heavily on efficient, accurate and transparent interaction, as well as flow of information between the various players in the landscape. In his view, better access by small producers to domestic and international markets means that they can reliably sell more produce at higher prices. This, in turn, encourages farmers to invest in their own businesses and increase the quantity, quality and diversity of the goods they produce.
“Strong links to markets for poor rural producers are essential to increasing agricultural production, generating economic growth in rural areas and reducing hunger and poverty,” said Kanu. “Improving these links would create a virtuous circle by boosting productivity, increasing incomes and strengthening food security.”
“Market access is a function of importer mandated requirements – standards, regulations, price and quantity and productive resources including finance, water, electricity, land and soft and hard infrastructure,” Kanu added.