AfDB applauds Brazil’s agricultural transformation at 4th Brazil Africa Forum
The African Development Bank applauded the successes of Brazil’s agricultural transformation during the recent 4th Brazil Africa Forum in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil
The event, which took place on November 3 and 4, 2016 and focused on Strategies for the Development of Agriculture in Brazil and Africa, was organized by the Brazil Africa Institute and hosted by Itaipu Binacional, one of the largest hydropower plants in the world. The forum provided a platform for high-level participants from Africa and Brazil, including representatives from Governments, Ministries of Agriculture, the private sector, business leaders, potential investors, research institutions and academia, to exchange views on investment and cooperation opportunities in the agriculture sector in Africa.
In his keynote address via video, President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank emphasized that African economies are resilient and the continent remains on a solid growth trajectory, with about 20 countries witnessing growth at over five percent. The private sector will play a critical role in Africa’s economic transformation and agriculture is at the heart of that transformation process, he said, adding that the Bank will work with Brazil to ensure that this economic transformation takes place through the Bank’s High 5 development priorities.
Specific to the special theme of the agriculture sector, Adesina indicated that “we want to transform African agriculture into a globally competitive industry that creates jobs and I can tell you that there is no country that demonstrates the power of agriculture better than Brazil. You took the entire Cerrado region and you turned it into a global powerhouse for food in the world. Well done! Africa needs to do that.
“That’s why we are, through the Feed Africa initiative, now going to be investing over US $24 billion over the next 10 year. We intend to turn Africa into a global powerhouse for food – our goal is to support agriculture as a business not as a way of life. The returns on investment are high. Fulfilling the potential of African agribusiness to meet the goals of Feed Africa could open the markets worth more than US $100 billion per annum by 2025.
“The agenda is huge, the opportunities are immense, but unlocking them will take more than the African Development Bank. That’s why partnerships being forged by the Brazil Africa Institute and all of you here today are so crucial for this new future for Africa.”
President Adesina’s address set the stage for the programme, which included speeches by João Bosco Monte, the President of the Brazil Africa Institute, and Jorge Samek, the Brazilian Director General for the Itaipu Binacional. In his address, Samek said the “Itaipu Hydroelectric dam is the success story of bilateral cooperation and regional integration between Brazil and Paraguay.” He expressed his keen interest in sharing Brazil’s experience and working with the Bank on the Inga Hydroelectric Dam project. In his view, Inga could be five times greater than Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam, which is the second-largest hydroelectric dam in the world, jointly owned by the governments of Brazil and Paraguay with an installed plant generation capacity of 14 Gigawatts (GW).
A session on Sustainable Development in the Agricultural Production Chain was moderated by Jorge Arbache, the Alternate Governor for Brazil at the African Development Bank and the Secretary of International Affairs at the Brazil Ministry of Planning, Development and Management. The session provided the platform for the African Development Bank delegation, led by Kapil Kapoor, Acting Vice-President, Sector Operations, to present the details of the High 5 priorities, including the opportunities linked to the agriculture sector in Africa, the strategy for the New Deal on Energy for Africa, and the role of the private sector in industry value-chains in Africa.
The Bank delegation also met with officials from Brazilian Cooperation Agency and Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, to initiate discussions on how the Bank can best help African countries to tap into Brazil’s experience in the development of the Cerrado region.
The forum closed with a statement by Odilson Luiz Ribeiro Silva, Secretary of Agribusiness International Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, on behalf of the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture. He emphasized the historical ties between Africa and Brazil and reiterated the need for closer collaboration in the agriculture sector. Several Brazilian companies present expressed a strong interest in investing in the agriculture sector in Africa and a desire to partner with the Bank.
Finally, a major highlight of the event was a special tour offered to the Bank delegation of the Itaipu facilities, which has among the largest electricity output of any hydroelectric dam in the world, averaging of 93 million MWH in the last five years, enough to provide 75% of Paraguay’s needs and meet 20% of Brazil’s demand. The guided visit provided a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned from the Itaipu project, including on regional integration, management of a shared river basin, environmental stewardship, agro-industries promotion and social development/inclusion in the surrounding communities.
In addition to participating in the forum, Kapoor and some of the members of the Bank delegation travelled to Rio to meet with officials of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the Chamber of Industry on co-financing opportunities with particular focus on industrial enterprise development and trade finance, and with representatives from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) to discuss its work on the combatting the Zika virus.