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Leveraging Resources for Agriculture and Rural Development in Africa

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“If agriculture is so important in Africa, why is so little being done about it?” This brainteaser from the African Development Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, set the tone for an AfDB-IFAD High Level Partnership Meeting which is reviewing a Joint Evaluation of Agricultural and Rural Development in Africa, held on Friday 20 November 2009 in Tunis.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Kaberuka said the issue has been the subject of so much discussion that it had become stale. He narrated the distorted evolution of African agriculture, noting that it had come to the point where there was confusion about spending more on agriculture without seeking to understand the problem to be resolved.

Mr. Kaberuka narrated the case of a remote landlocked rural farming community that was hard put to earn a decent living from their produce until a road was constructed in the area, ushering a groceries boom and instant affluence in many households.

The Bank, he said, had remained focused on infrastructure development and water management to boost agricultural and rural development.

He emphasized the need for division of labour and strengthened partnership with IFAD in their collaboration which began in 1978, noting that the joint evaluation would send a signal to the international community on the need to leverage resources to promote agriculture and rural development.

For his part, IFAD’s Assistant President, Kevin Cleaver, said the review would give momentum to the partnership which, he noted, had weakened over time.

“Our clients want us to work with institutions. They want us to be more effective as we get more resources. In Africa, the AfDB is the key partner,” he said.

During the day-long joint review of the evaluation commissioned by the boards of both institutions, managers from both sides discussed the report and recommendations on the relevance, performance and partnerships of the two organisations in addressing agricultural and rural development in Africa.

The report draws attention to the many opportunities and challenges for agricultural and rural development in Africa, and highlights the importance of African leadership in developing clear sector policies and strong institutions in the sector.

It recommends addressing sector policy gaps by supporting NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Policy (CAAPD), aligning policies with national sector strategies, and supporting the capacity of African countries to engage in international advocacy on trade issues affecting farmers.

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