Feeding Africa conference adopts plan for agricultural transformation
The adoption of an action plan and wide-ranging partnerships to transform African agriculture into viable agri-business were the main outcomes of the three-day high-level conference on Africa’s agricultural transformation, which ended in Dakar, Senegal, on Friday.
“This conference has created the synergy needed for effective partnerships to enable us attain our objectives of feeding Africa,” African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, said at the closing ceremony. “We can do it, we will do it. We will feed Africa, we will feed the world.”
Among the decisions taken by the Finance and Agriculture Ministers and Central Bank Governors who attended the conference is to scale up nutrition programs across Africa to end malnutrition and hunger.
The program, Adesina said, will involve establishing a strategic partnership with President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, Grow Africa of the World Economic Forum, the Big Win Philanthropy, the FAO, Scaling Up Nutrition, the World Food Program, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, as well as the private sector at large, to deploy innovative approaches to addressing malnutrition.
The conference also approved a list of organisations to lead initiatives aimed at raising agricultural productivity across the continent, in close partnership with the African Development Bank, the World Bank and development partners. These include: the Forum for African Agricultural Research, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, as well as national agricultural research systems.
Also, the AfDB, the African Union Commission/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization will work closely with other development partners in the development of agro-allied industrial zones and agricultural corridors. The goal is to accelerate investments in integrated infrastructure to improve the competitiveness of Africa in processing and value addition to agricultural products.
Other action plans aim to significantly increase commercial financing to the agriculture sector by establishing an African Agricultural Risk Sharing Facility.
“The Bank will work with partners to leverage $3 billion in financing for women farmers, agribusinesses and other women-owned enterprises. This will be achieved through the establishment of a US $300-million facility to de-risk financing to women owned-businesses by commercial banks and microfinance institutions,” the AfDB President said.
The Bank will also triple its climate financing to US $5 billion annually by 2020 by working closely with the African Union, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the United Nations Environmental Program and the G7 for the establishment of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative. In addition, the Bank will support African countries to have access to the Africa Risk Capacity to manage climate-related catastrophic challenges.
Under the plan, Central Banks in Africa will set aside special funds to allow farmers to access credit at reduced interest rates, and as well for long-term agricultural loans with longer-term maturity.
The Bank will develop Agribusiness Diaspora Bonds to securitize remittance flows for investments in African agriculture and agribusiness; it will accelerate financing to the agriculture and agribusiness sector through private equity funds; and it will leverage sovereign wealth funds and pension funds to support the long-term financing needs of the agricultural sector, especially for critical infrastructure development.
It will also support more functional agricultural development banks; and scale up the establishment of warehouse receipt financing and agricultural commodity exchanges, especially regional agricultural commodity exchanges.
Finally, the Bank will scale up skills enhancement for youths in agriculture and establish an African Youth in Agriculture Financing Facility to support young commercial farmers and youths in agriculture.
“These are bold decisions. And nothing less than bold decisions are needed to transform Africa’s agricultural sector and unlock its huge potential. We must leave here strongly committed to accelerate implementation of actions on these areas. We must act and act with a sense of urgency,” Adesina said.
Also during the meeting Germany’s development bank (KfW) and the Nairobi-based pan-African mobile and digital payments technology company Cellulant announced a broad collaboration that aims to advance the agricultural transformation agenda across the African continent in collaboration with the AfDB.