A coalition of multilateral development banks and development partners, on Friday at a high-level forum, pledged over US$17bn in financing to improve food security, while tackling rising hunger on the African continent.
The funds were pledged on the final day of a two-day high-level dialogue – Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovations, hosted by the Africa Development Bank and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The programme held on April 29 and 30, was in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the CGIAR System Organization.
Also, a statement by the AfDB noted that 17 African heads of state signed on to the commitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technologies, investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.
Of the overall amount pledged, over US$10bn came from the AfDB, which promised to invest US$1.57bn on scaling up 10 selected priority commodities over the next five years, to help countries achieve self-sufficiency.
Another US$8.83bn will go towards building strong value chains for these commodities over the next five years, including programmes to create opportunities for young people – particularly women.
According to AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina: “Let us now create today, a stronger partnership: a partnership for greater scale; a partnership to take technologies and innovations to hundreds of millions of farmers.”
IFAD hopes to provide an additional US$1.5bn to Africa to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems over the next three years. IFAD will also invest more in creating the pre-conditions for increased agricultural productivity.
The organization is helping to develop a growing pipeline of investments to restore land, create jobs and build resilience to climate change in the Sahel region, a move expected to contribute to the Green Great Wall objectives, and will create 10m jobs in the region by 2030.
Also commenting, IFAD’s President Gilbert F. Houngbo praised “the African leaders’ commitment to increase agricultural productivity and improve food security for millions of Africans
“By modernizing African agriculture, small-scale 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,” he added.
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) committed up to US$1.5bn over the period 2020-2024 in agriculture, while the Islamic Development Bank Group is earmarking US$3.5bn in developing the agriculture sector in Africa in the next three years.
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, the statement added, in joining the coalition of development partners, announced a US$652m investment over the next three years to support agriculture research and development initiatives in Africa. This funding is expected to empower 300m farmers with a host of new innovations.
Summing up interventions by African heads of state in a seven-point action list, President Macky Sall of Senegal noted the commitment to accelerate agricultural production by taking technologies to scale, increase investment in research and development, and optimize technology. Others are: Improve business language in agriculture to open up to the world, support access to markets and the installation of basic infrastructure and equipment, and invest in new businesses to transform agricultural produce to support small producers.
There are also plans to create a facility for agricultural transformation, even as the communiqué reflected these action points, emphasizing the call for a financing facility for food security in Africa.
“It was agreed that this would be an appropriate channel for scaling up climate resilience and successful agricultural technologies. It would include digital innovations to farmers across Africa and would allow countries to better address malnutrition and child stunting.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land but only produces 10 per cent 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 consumed. This makes food systems more vulnerable and dependent on external food supply chains.”
The outcomes from the week’s Leaders’ Dialogue, the statement assured, “will be communicated to the UN Secretary-General as Africa’s commitments towards the UN Food Systems Summit in September this year. They will lay the foundation for Africa to present a unified voice to step up efforts and partnerships towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”