AfDB Discusses its strategy for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation

The African Development Bank’s Department for Agriculture and Agro-industry launched “Feed Africa: A Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa 2016-2025” on September 19, 2016, at its headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The event brought together participants from the public sector including the Minister of Agriculture for Côte d’Ivoire, the Ambassador of Mali, a representative from the Ethiopian Embassy, members of international development institutions, and the private sector.

The meeting’s objective was to introduce the strategy to various stakeholders, and to reaffirm the Bank’s commitment to contributing to agricultural transformation in Africa. Over 300 participants attended the event. International agribusiness companies, international development partners, students, women farmers’ associations and experts provided their opinions on the strategy and discussed the main issues at stake.

“Agriculture must be the engine of Africa’s economic transformation,” said Sipho Moyo, the Bank’s Chief of Staff, who represented President Akinwumi Adesina.

In his remarks, Chiji Ojukwu, the Director of the Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department, stated that Africa needed an agricultural revolution, citing high food imports. Africa faces a staggering food import bill of US $35.4 billion per annum, which is projected to increase to US $110 billion by 2025.

Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture for Côte d’Ivoire, pointed out new challenges for African farmers. He cited terrorist violence, migration and climate change as part of an evolving environment. “We don’t process and add value in Africa. When we export our commodities, we are exporting our jobs,” he lamented. The Ivorian Minister praised the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy. “Let me applaud the strength of this strategy with its focus on value chains and financing,” he said.

The strategy has four specific goals. These are: contribute to eliminating extreme poverty in Africa by 2025; end hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025; make Africa a net food exporter; and move Africa to the top of export‑orientated global value chains, where it has comparative advantage.

The meeting included a panel discussion with Germain Dasylva, a representative of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Jean-Philippe Tre, an agricultural economist with World Bank; Mauricio Alarcon, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé; Albert Diadhiou, Chief Executive Officer, Cocoa Trade Ivoire; and Lou Irié Colette, Chairperson of Féderation Nationale des Sociétés et Coopératives du Vivirer en Côte d’Ivoire (FENASCOVICI), among others. The talks highlighted the importance of increased productivity, as well as the need to target women and youth in agriculture.

Ojukwu announced the AfDB’s pledge to contribute US $2.5 billion each year for the next decade in order to bridge the gap in agriculture financing. “We hope this will encourage others to contribute to the US $30 billion needed for an agricultural transformation in Africa,” he concluded.

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