AfDB President calls for Less Rain-fed Agriculture in Africa

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, on Monday December 9th 2008 in Paris urged Africa and its partners to learn from 40 years of agricultural policies and to define a new strategy oriented toward water management and the development of agricultural infrastructure.

"As we focus on agricultural policies we have pursued for 40 years, we can very easily notice that the results were not convincing. We are still in Africa where agriculture is rain-fed," he said, while addressing participants at the Paris international conference on reviving African agriculture. Presenting a picture of the continent’s new agriculture, Mr. Kaberuka also called for better coordination of activities among donors, in the spirit of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.

"It is not the funding that has been missing in the agricultural sector. It is the manner in which the money was managed which was, unfortunately, not always very effective. We must emerge from the situation where all donors are doing the same thing without any consultation. We must find ways to operate more efficiently," Mr. Kaberuka said.

In this regard, he cited the complementarity between the AfDB and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), two institutions which provide 50% of funding for the continent’s agricultural sector.

"We have decided with IFAD to work together, with each of our institutions providing expertise in the area where it is more effective. The AfDB is, for example, known for its know-how in water management and the development of agricultural infrastructure. Our interventions are complemented by those of IFAD, which produces very good results," Mr. Kaberuka said.

He also stressed the importance the AfDB attaches to the agricultural sector which, he said, could be effectively financed through micro-credits.

"We have an agricultural portfolio of about US$ 4 billion. Following the recent food crisis, we increased our portfolio by US$ 1billion. The AfDB has never neglected the agricultural sector, even as other donors walked away from it," Mr. Kaberuka said.

Some 300 participants, including some thirty African and European ministers, took part in Monday’s conference held in Paris on the theme "Investing in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa." Participants at the conference agreed that revitalizing African agriculture required public and private investments in the construction of roads, the building of irrigation systems, production, marketing and processing. They also underscored the importance of speeding up regional integration in order to promote the emergence of viable regional markets.

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