Speech delivered by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the Launch of the Mécanisme incitatif de financement agricole (MIFA), June 25, 2018, Lome, Togo

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Your Excellency and my dear brother, President Faure Gnassingbe, the Prime Minister, Honorable Ministers and members of the Government,

The President of the National Assembly,

The President of IFAD,

Ambassadors and heads of diplomatic agencies,

CEO of NIRSAL, CEOs of Banks, CEOs of agribusiness firms and farmers, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Mr. President, I wish to thank you for inviting me to this occasion for the launch of the Indicative Mechanism for the Financing of Agriculture (MIFA). It represents your bold move to further transform the agricultural sector of Togo.

When I received your invitation, I had to come, even though it is during the time of the funeral events for my father this week. I had to honor you because I admire your leadership, courage and commitment to the transformation of Togo, especially in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture is critical to the economy of Togo, because it represents over 46% of the GDP and employs 73% of the population. Yet, poverty in the rural areas is high, with close to 69% of the rural population living in poverty. Therefore, transforming agriculture is the key to reviving the rural economy and turning them into new zones of economic prosperity.

Africa must feed itself. Africa spends $35 billion a year importing food and this is projected to rise to $110 billion by 2020, if the current trend continues. Yet Africa has 65% of the arable land left to feed the world by 2050. This is totally unacceptable.

The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture. Therefore, we must change our view on agriculture. Agriculture is not a development activity or a social sector. Agriculture is a business. We must not use agriculture to manage poverty. We must use agriculture to create wealth.

That is why the African Development Bank is strongly supporting Togo to unlock the potential of its agriculture. We must support key building blocks of agricultural transformation. And for that, political will is important. Mr. President, I see that political will in you from our several interactions. Many times we met, even at the airport, for several hours each time, to discuss and reflect on how the agricultural transformation of Togo can be achieved.

I shared with you several of the transformative programs that I launched in Nigeria, while a Minister of Agriculture for Nigeria in 2011-2015, which helped to transform Nigeria’s agriculture sector. One of them was how we used mobile phones to deliver seeds and fertilizer vouchers to farmers in Nigeria, ending the corruption in the fertilizer sector. The system, called E-wallet system, was so successful in Nigeria and helped to deliver seeds and fertilizers to over 15 million farmers within four years, using the power of mobile phones.

You agreed to launch the E-wallet system, called AgriPME in Togo. The African Development Bank worked with your government to set up the system to support the access of farmers to fertilizers using their mobile phones.

Today, the results of the AgriPME system in Togo have been impressive. In its first year (2016/2017 farming season), 77,540 farmers got their fertilizers through the system, 38% of them being women. The system allowed the government to better target farmers and deliver subsidized farm inputs. It has also improved transparency, accountability, and ensured greater efficiency of public expenditure.

For the same amount of government budget, 40,000 MT of fertilizers were provided to farmers with the AgriPME system, compared to 30,000 MT on average during the period of 2009-2015 – an increase of 45%. The system saved the government 3.5 Billion FCFA.

As a result of the E-wallet (AgriPME), farmers increased their maize production by over 32,000 MT in the season. That is impressive! I am delighted to note that the government expects to use the system to reach 244,000 farmers in this year’s farming season.

The African Development Bank has also worked with your government to design another innovative approach: Staple Crop Processing Zones. These zones will be used to attract private sector food and agro-allied industries to the rural economies, to add value to food and agricultural produce.

I am delighted Mr. President that your government developed the Strategic Plan for the Development of these zones (PRODAT) which will see the development of 10 Staple Crop Processing Zones in Togo over the next ten years. I am pleased Mr. President to inform you that the African Development Bank has prepared about $30 million support for the program, expected to be approved by our Board of Directors next month.

Mr. President, the Mécanisme Indicatif de Financement Agricole (MIFA) you are launching today is another building block in Togo’s agricultural transformation strategy, jointly developed by the African Development Bank and the Government of Togo, with support of the NIRSAL in Nigeria.

This new intervention, the MIFA, is focused on helping to reduce the risk of lending to agriculture. Again, it was based on successful experiences in Nigeria with NIRSAL, where it helped to de-risk lending by commercial banks to agriculture.

The goal of MIFA is to help increase access to finance. When fully implemented it is expected to rapidly increase bank lending to the agricultural sector and reduce interest rates and reach 1 million farmers with access to credit in the next 3-5 years.

Mr. President, your leadership has been outstanding in the design and launch of MIFA. You were involved in every detail and gave the needed political support and direction.

I want to thank you for warmly receiving the high-level delegation of the African Development Bank (Mrs. Akin-Olugbade, Director General West Africa, Dr. Serge Nguessan, Deputy Director General, West Africa and Ms. Atsuko Toda, Director of Agricultural Finance and Rural Development) that I deployed on ground here to support the design and launch of MIFA.

I also wish to thank Minister Reckya Madougou and Minister Victoire Dogbe for their strong support. I wish to specially thank the CEO of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Hameed for his remarkable leadership – and his team – for helping to design of MIFA and its successful launch today. I thank the Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture, respectively, for their strong support.

To all the Banks and financial institutions in Togo, let me say that the success of MIFA is in your hands. You all need to lend more to the agriculture sector and at affordable rates. Be assured that the African Development Bank will be there to strongly support MIFA and ensure its success.

Once again, congratulations, Mr. President, for your great leadership.

Just like the success of the AgriPME system, I look forward to the equally great success of the MIFA initiative!

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