AfDB and IITA Discuss Food Crisis

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on Monday, July 7, 2008, started a two-day retreat in Tunis to explore possibilities of addressing the current global food crisis that has hurt many people across the continent. The retreat comes on the heels of a workshop on revitalizing Africa’s agriculture which was recently held in the Tunisian capital.

Participants explored ways of building capacity for agricultural training and research. They also discussed Bank Group assistance to the sector and explored possible areas of collaboration between both institutions with a view to responding to current challenges facing the sector.

The Bank Group is committed to helping its regional member countries deal with the devastating effects of the food crisis that has put many on the continent at risk.

Speaking recently in Rome, Italy, during the food summit that brought together many heads of state and government, heads of development institutions and agricultural research institutes as well as representatives of civil society organizations, Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, said the Bank Group had always maintained a huge and robust portfolio in the sector which, prior to the food crisis, stood at US$ 3.8 billion and had been increased to US$ 4.8 billion as a short-term strategy aimed at enabling the institution’s regional member countries cope with escalating food prices.  The Bank Group, he continued, had restructured some of its agricultural portfolio to provide a rapid disbursement facility to the tune of US$ 250 million.

As a measure aimed at boosting food supply on the continent, the Bank Group's boards of governors recently approved the establishment of the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism Special Fund aimed at mobilizing resources to finance fertilizer production, distribution, procurement and use on the continent.

IITA is a member of the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR) whose mandate is to undertake capacity building, research and commercialization in Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural sector. IITA Project Development and Management Director, David Watson, represented IITA at the meeting.

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