AfDB at Dakar International Agriculture Forum
The Dakar International Agriculture Forum, which took place from 18-19 April in Senegal, addressed the fundamental issues of global agriculture regulation and governance. The forum, initiated by President Abdoulaye Wade, comes a month before the next G20 meeting. According to its organizers, "the conclusions that emerge from the Forum will form, without doubt, an essential input to the current international negotiations in the G20, led by France.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) was represented by its Sector Operations Vice President, Kamal El Kheshen, who reiterated the Bank’s support to the forum. He also focused on issues such as the rising prices of agricultural products and foodstuff as well as the need for substantial resources to finance agriculture.
Mr. El Kheshen said the situation posed enormous challenges for Africa, in view of the slow growth in world agricultural production, non-attainment of the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of undernourished people, increase in the number of people affected by hunger by more than 40 million and the challenge of feeding nine billion people on the planet in 2050. The vice president underscored the need "to ensure regulation of agricultural markets on the basis of transparency, promotion of cohesion and complementarities, and consideration of food safety as a global public good”.
Mr. El Kheshen also noted that the AfDB has always prioritized agricultural development. The Bank currently has a portfolio of more than 140 operations worth some USD 3 billion, he said, with over USD 1 billion additional resources that will be added over the next three years through the African Development Fund (ADF XII).
The forum wound up with some proposals:
- Creation of a world agriculture organization or revamping existing organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to better integrate the new challenges facing the planet, and give priority to agriculture, food and natural resources preservation
- Consider agriculture and food as global public goods
- Better regulate agricultural markets, particularly through the establishment of a central pricing regime, with fluctuation margins for major agricultural commodities, as well as zoning and establishment of buffer stocks.
- Reduce productivity differentials by investments in infrastructure (water, transport, processing), inputs (seeds, fertilizers, etc.) and research and development
Closing the forum, President Wade launched the "Dakar Appeal" which carries a strong message in favor of new agriculture governance and new ways of regulating agricultural markets. The call is intended for G20 members, in the context of ongoing debate on agriculture in general and commodity prices in particular.