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The African Development Bank Group’s Board has approved the institution's participation in implementing a five-year Africa Action Plan for improving statistics for food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development. The Action Plan is part of a Global Strategy endorsed in 2010 by the UN Statistical Commission for improving the quality and quantity of agricultural statistics in Regional Member Countries (RMCs).
The Bank is designated lead agency for the formulation and implementation of the Action Plan in Africa, in partnership with UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC). The Bank will be responsible for providing technical assistance to (RMCs) in addition to coordinating the entire Africa program. In this capacity the Bank will host the regional secretariat, lead the regional steering committee, coordinate project implementation, participate in resource mobilization and apply funds from the Global Trust Fund hosted by FAO.
Presenting the Action Plan to the Board on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 in Tunis, the Director of the Bank’s Statistics Department (ESTA), Charles Lufumpa, emphasized the importance of the Bank’s participation to play a leading role in connecting with producers and users of official agricultural statistics in RMCs including administrative units and ministries, national policy-makers, businesses, investors, researchers and analysts. He noted that a US $66-million budget has been programmed for the plan’s implementation. The UK Department of International Development (DFID) and Gates Foundation have pledged a total of US $40 million to support the plan. He further expressed the satisfaction that at the regional level a transparent governance arrangement has been set up under the chairmanship of AfDB while at the national level the National Agricultural Statistical Coordination Committees will be supported by national technical working teams.
“The Bank is currently conducting Country Assessments to provide information on the statistical capacities of all RMCs to generate reliable and timely food and agricultural statistics. At the same time the Bank is collecting basic data on the minimum core indicators in each RMC and has successfully completed this work in 34 African countries,” Lufumpa said.
The objective is to have reliable baseline information which will be used in determining the capacity building needs of each country and which will also be useful in developing national implementation strategies on the basis of which technical assistance and other supports could be provided by the Bank and its development partners. “We believe that this approach to statistical capacity building will help yield comparative outcomes for agricultural statistics, and facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices among RMCs particularly through workshops, study tours and training of country officials,” he concluded.
The Bank believes that the availability of accurate comparable agricultural data would enable farmers to make better production and marketing choices and in so doing, boost agricultural productivity and incomes. Quality data will also allow countries to develop more effective agricultural policies, and to monitor and evaluate progress in the domain. Improved data will also enable national governments to take measures to stave off major food crises. Better knowledge about crop and livestock production, trade, stock, and animal feed will serve as the building-blocks to estimate food availability in the countries and to address food vulnerability issues.
Over the long term, the Action Plan would usher a range of positive benefits for statistical development in Africa, including the development of advanced and cost-effective methodologies, tools, and standards for improving agricultural statistics. It would also help in leveraging institutional, organizational, and technical capacities of National Agricultural Statistical Systems, among other benefits.
In approving the Action Plan, the Board took note of the fact that the Bank and the continent as a whole need to have the necessary data to do their work, and underscored the fact that the AfDB should be the lead agency in collecting the statistics.