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2016 Development Effectiveness Review on Agriculture

Agriculture is at the heart of Africa's development: 7 in every 10 Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. While Africa has enjoyed impressive growth rates for over a decade, this growth has barely touched the millions living on the land. Africa has yet to experience the agricultural miracle that has transformed other developing regions.

Yet Africa has vast agricultural potential, and most of the technologies required to boost yields are already at hand. With the right policies and investments, African agriculture could readily become an engine for inclusive growth across the continent.

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) work in agriculture has delivered a wide range of benefits to farmers: better seeds, irrigation and sustainable technologies, and greater access to finance and to markets. Bank projects have increased yields, production levels and incomes for farmers, resulting in more dynamic local economies. We recognise, however, that much more needs to be done.

Total investment in African agriculture is still well short of the levels required to deliver fundamental change and prosperity. Africa’s rapid rates of population growth and urbanization are creating vast unmet demands for food and agricultural products. The continent needs a major injection of both public and private finance into all stages of the agricultural value chain, using finance in smarter ways to create dynamic enterprises throughout the sector and markets. This must include both small- and large-scale agribusinesses, to ensure that agricultural development generates inclusive growth.

This is the right time for a big and sustained push on agriculture. That’s why the Bank has made the transformation of this sector, one of its five top priorities (the “High5s”), along with light up and power Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa and improve the quality of life of the people of Africa.

For our part, working with African governments, other development partners and the private sector, the Bank has refocused its assistance on transforming agriculture and agribusiness by 2025. We are working to create better returns to farmers and agribusinesses, including more opportunities for women and young people, while promoting improved food security and nutrition across the continent.

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Level 1: Africa’s progress in developing the agriculture sector

After years of underinvestment in agriculture, agriculture is back at the top of the agenda in Africa. The continent now sees agriculture as a powerful engine of economic growth that is more inclusive, since seven out of 10 Africans make a living from the land. With the right policies and greater investment, the continent has huge potential to boost yields and be a net food exporter and could become a trillion-dollar food market by 2030.

Level 2: The Bank’s contributions to the agriculture sector

During the five years of the strategy through 2015, the Bank invested US$5.5 billion and a portfolio of 6000 agriculture projects (link to Map Africa), to develop value chain infrastructure, and boost agriculture yields and productivity. The Bank also responded rapidly to food crises, introduced fertilisers, technologies, and new seed varieties, increased access to finance for farmers, and built roads and invested in transport corridors to link producers to urban markets. What is more, the Bank built irrigation systems to increase the land’s resilience to drought and supported regeneration and conservation of forests.

Level 3: How well is the Bank managing its agriculture portfolio?

Using results data, the Bank received a 97 percent satisfactory rating on its agriculture projects, above targets, and cut the time for approving new operations to six months from nine. New safeguard policies to promote inclusive and green growth meant 89 percent of new agriculture projects had climate-informed designs and 87 percent of these had gender-informed designs

Level 4: How efficient is the Bank in supporting its agriculture operations?

Costs for administration and project preparation were stable, but there is room for improvement. To hire and train the best staff, an employee engagement index showed greater satisfaction, and the share of women in professional and managerial roles is also rising, although still below target. At the same time, 70 percent of agriculture projects are managed by country offices, in line with the Bank’s decentralization strategy to better respond to the needs of partner countries.