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Experts Reflect on Imperative of Regional Action for Agriculture in Africa


 “Africa has to change ways of doing things in agriculture and to recognize the global winds of change for the sector,” Bank Group Operations Evaluation Officer, Detlev Puetz, said on Tuesday 11 November 2009 in Addis-Ababa, during a presentation on the theme: Facing the financial crisis: The imperative of regional action for agriculture in Africa. In the presence of more than 150 conference participants, Mr. Puetz developed key theories on new paths for agricultural finance development.

In his presentation, he stressed that developing and financing a range of important regional public goods for agriculture, from regional markets to trans-national infrastructure, from innovation research and plant and animal disease protection to natural resource management, could go a long way for farmers to seize post-crisis growth and development opportunities.

He however pointed out that “Getting ready for the future also means investing more strongly in regional integration and coordination, in agriculture and elsewhere, and in new partnerships required at that level, including those with sub-regional farmer organizations and the private sector.” He added that stronger regional investments and regional thinking were the essence of his paper.

He stressed that donors such as the AfDB and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) need to develop their regional capacities and streamlined financing and implementation mechanisms independent of individual country borrowing decisions. They have to generate effective partnerships with African governments, continental and regional African development institutions, the civil society, the private sector and other donors to narrow the regional development gaps.

At a time of an unprecedented international financial and economic crisis, “the continent must concentrate on its fundamental economic assets, and one of them is agriculture,” Mr. Puetz underscored as he opened the floor for live discussions. “In this crisis, agriculture can help as a buffer and safety net for food security and employment. At the same time agriculture, if rightly organized, could help Africa recover from the financial crisis more quickly and help in seizing post-crisis opportunities from expected increases in demand for agricultural commodities and in mitigating the effects of climate change,” he explained during his presentation.

OPEV is the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s Operations Evaluation Department. It conducts independent, systematic assessments of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the Bank’s policies, strategies and operations.


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