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Rome, 17 November 2009 – The World Summit on Food Security, which is being held in Rome between 16 and 18 November 2009, is being fully supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, proposed that this Summit should agree on key actions to tackle the food insecurity situation. As he said “the silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world.”
FAO estimates that the number of hungry people in the world could increase by another 100 million in 2009, and pass the one billion mark.
AfDB Vice-President, Kamal El Kheshen, said that “the global food crisis has posed a major threat to global food and nutrition security and caused a host of humanitarian, human rights, socio-economic, environmental, developmental, political and security-related consequences. Against the backdrop of the food crisis, Africa’s agriculture faces real and diverse challenges including those that pertain to technology, infrastructure, markets, institutional and human capacity, regional integration, governance, production inputs and climate change risks.”
The AfDB strongly supports the call to invest more in Africa’s agricultural sector. Together with IFAD, the Bank accounts for more than half of all donor interventions in African agriculture. Since its establishment in 1964, the Bank Group has provided over 3,000 agricultural loans and grants to its Regional Member Countries (RMCs) amounting to US$ 62 billion. Between 1980 and 2000, over 40 percent of the Bank Group’s concessional resources were used to support agricultural development. Through its public sector window, the Bank manages a portfolio of 226 operations, with commitments valued at US$ 3.72 billion in 30 RMCs. Since 2004, humanitarian support has amounted to approximately US$ 36.45 million.
In collaboration with its partners, AfDB is promoting a number of complementary agriculture, food security and allied initiatives, such as the African Food Crisis Response (AFCR), a framework for accelerated support to RMCs affected by high food prices. Over a three-year period from 2008, AfDB added US$1 billion to its agriculture sector portfolio, raising it to US$ 4.8 billion. The AFCR is projected to inject about US$780 million in the short-term, and US$ 2.19 billion in the medium-to-long-term, into Africa’s agriculture.
According to El Kheshen, “the Bank is also developing various targeted initiatives in a number of agricultural sub-sectors including agricultural water management and storage, post-harvest losses reduction, and continental agricultural capacity building.” An ongoing operation aims to promote the use of the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) in seven African countries and is valued at US$ 33 million. The programme to build the capacity of national agricultural research institutions in Africa is valued at US$ 293 million. The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism, as set up by the Abuja Summit, will increase fertilizer use.
During the Summit, AfDB and FAO took the opportunity to discuss matters of interest for both institutions, including the AfDB new Agricultural and Agro-Industry Strategy for the period 2010-2014.
The AfDB delegation to the World Summit on Food Security was composed of Vice-President Kamal El Kheshen, Agriculture and Agro-Industry Director Aly Abou-Sabaa and Lead Agriculture Specialist, Benedict Kanu.