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African countries and partners commit to double agricultural productivity.

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A commitment by African heads of state and a pledge by its partners have given African agriculture a boost. Image credit: Wikimedia.Commons

04 May 2021 – Seventeen African heads of state have committed to double agricultural productivity while, at the same time, a coalition of development banks and partners has pledged more than USD17-billion to increase food security.

A coalition of multilateral development banks and development partners has pledged more than USD17-billion in financing to address rising hunger on the African continent, and to improve food security.

These funds were pledged on the final day of a two-day high-level dialogue called Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovations. The African Development Bank and the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) hosted the event in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the CGIAR System Organisation on 29 and 30 April 2021.

Seventeen African heads of state signed a commitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technologies. This will include investing in access to markets and promoting agricultural research and development. The various parties adopted a communiqué outlining these commitments at the end of the event.

Of the overall amount pledged, more than USD10-billion came from The African Development Bank, which announced that it would invest USD1.57-billion on scaling up 10 selected priority commodities over the next five years. This will help countries achieve self-sufficiency. Another USD8.83-billion will go towards building strong value chains for these commodities over the next five years. This will include programs to create opportunities for young people – particularly women.

In his address the African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said: “Let us create a stronger partnership: a partnership for greater scale; a partnership to take technologies and innovations to hundreds of millions of farmers.”

The International Fund for Agricultural Development said it aimed to provide an additional USD1.5-billion to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems in Africa over the next three years. IFAD will also invest more in creating the pre-conditions for increased agricultural productivity. The organisation is helping to develop a growing pipeline of investments to restore land, create jobs and build resilience to climate change in the Sahel region. This will contribute to the Green Great Wall objectives and will create 10 million jobs in the region by 2030.

IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo praised the African leaders’ commitment to increase agricultural productivity and improve food security for millions of Africans. “By modernising African agriculture, small-holder farmers will be in a better position to bring more affordable food to consumers and create decent livelihoods for millions of young Africans involved in the processing, storage and marketing of food,” said Houngbo.

The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) committed USD1.5-billion over the next three years, while the Islamic Development Bank Group said it would earmark USD3.5-billion to develop the agriculture sector in Africa. It said these investments will develop commodity value chains for both staple food and cash crops.

In an additional show of solidarity, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joining a coalition of development partners, declared that it will invest USD652-million in the next three years. This will support agricultural research and development initiatives in Africa. This funding is expected to empower 300 million farmers with a host of new innovations.

President Macky Sall of Senegal summed up interventions by African heads of state with the following seven-point action list:

  • Accelerate agricultural production by taking technologies to scale
  • Increase investment in research and development
  • Optimise technology
  • Improve business language in agriculture to open up to the world
  • Support access to markets and the installation of basic infrastructure and equipment
  • Invest in new businesses to transform agricultural produce to support small producers.
  • Create a financing facility for food security and nutrition in Africa

The forum communiqué reflected these action points, emphasising the call for a financing facility for food security in Africa. It was felt that this would be an appropriate channel for scaling up climate resilience and successful agricultural technologies. It will include digital innovations to farmers across Africa and will allow countries to better address malnutrition and stunting.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land but only produces 10% of its agricultural output. The low productivity of staple crops makes African agriculture uncompetitive. As a result, the continent imports one-third of the calories that it consumes. This makes food systems more vulnerable and dependent on external food supply chains.

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