AfDB Joins International Community in World Food Day Celebration

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Tunis, Tunisia, 16 October 2009 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group joins the international communicate to celebrate World Food Day. The AfDB fully supports World Food Day celebrations as a prime opportunity to increase public awareness of food problems on the African continent. This year’s theme “achieving food security in times of crisis" is a vivid reminder of the recent global food crisis. The day offers a unique opportunity to urgently raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger, reflect on the rising tide of world hunger and take a fresh approach to agricultural and food security policy-making. Africa’s agriculture has a huge potential, given its good agro-climatic endowments and labour costs. Agriculture is also a lifeline for Africa, being the primary source of food for the majority, the primary economic sector and the engine of growth. Yet, Africa’s agriculture continues to face serious challenges, including the global financial and economic crisis and the food crisis, all in the face of higher energy prices and inadequate infrastructure. These realities are daunting and are threatening growth performance and the prospect of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The development of agriculture should receive the attention it deserves and agricultural recovery plans should be an integral part of financial recovery plans. The critical role of regional financial institutions, including the AfDB is, therefore, imperative. Against the prevailing global economic fragility and in line with its Medium Term Strategy, the Bank is repositioning itself for a renewed engagement in agriculture that focuses on selectivity and building long-term partnerships based on institutional comparative advantage. However, African-led policies and strategies are critical for agriculture to prosper and for the continent to be able to feed itself sustainably. In addition, African resources are needed to develop African agriculture in the long-term.  

The food crisis of 2008 has clearly demonstrated the inadequacy of the quantity and quality of investment in Africa’s agricultural sector. The AfDB strongly supports the need to invest in the continent’s agricultural sector. Funding for agriculture has always been one of the key strategic priorities of the AfDB. Since its establishment in 1964, the Bank has provided over 3,000 agricultural loans and grants to its Regional Member Countries amounting to US$ 62 billion. Between 1980 and 2000, a period when support to the sector was generally declining, over 40% of ADF resources were targeted to supporting agricultural development. The Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-industry Department is part of the Bank’s public sector and manages a portfolio comprising about 226 operations, with current commitments standing at US$ 3.72 billion in 30 African countries. This excludes investment by the institution’s Private Sector Department. AfDB’s agricultural investments are mainly implemented through infrastructure priority areas such as agricultural and rural infrastructure, including irrigation and water mobilization, rural and farm access roads, livestock and fisheries. Guided by its Medium Term Strategy, the Bank, through the African Food Crisis Response (AFCR), approved in 2008, is projected to avail about UA 1.4 billion (US$ 2.19 billion) in the medium-to-long term to address issues of high food prices and food insecurity.  The Bank already approved projects estimated at UA 219.61 million (US$ 344.0 million) in 2008 and committed about UA 235.8 million (US$ 337 million) in 2009 in support of Africa’s agricultural sector. Using its humanitarian emergency relief assistance fund, the Bank continues to support victims of natural disasters across the continent. From 2004 to date, Bank emergency/humanitarian assistance support amounts to about UA 24.3 million (US$ 36.45 million).

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