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African Development Bank in Ambitious Plan to Boost Farming

Published on Monday 8th March 2010 African Development Bank in Ambitious Plan to Boost Farming

The African Development Bank has approved its 2010-2014 agricultural sector strategy. The strategy seeks to position the bank to contribute more effectively to agriculture.

It is expected to enhance the continent's food security and reduce poverty levels while promoting conservation of natural resources.

The bank's president, Donald Kaberuka, says the strategy focuses on agricultural infrastructure and renewable natural resource management.

"It is designed to enable the bank's intervention to remain focused, selective and innovative with a view to enhancing the relevance and sustainability of such interventions in agriculture.

"The strategy is shaped by a series of consultations with country officials and external public and private stakeholders in Africa."

It has also benefited from a consultation workshop held in Tunis on November 13, 2009, in addition to the bank's sectoral and thematic strategic frameworks and partners' efforts.

About 70 per cent of Africa's population depends on agriculture. Currently, more than 200 million Africans face food insecurity.

The gross domestic product per farmer per year has over the past two decades risen by less than one per cent in Africa, compared with two per cent in Asia and about three per cent in Latin America.

Most of the growth has been related to increasing land area under cultivation, rather than increasing productivity.

Research shows that unless investments in drivers of agricultural development are increased, Africa won't be able to feed more than half of its population by 2015.

Hence AfDB's four-year plan to increase agricultural productivity.

One of the key pillars of the strategy, the agricultural infrastructure interventions, will focus on building and rehabilitating rural roads, markets and storage infrastructure, as well as supporting agro-processing and reducing post harvest losses.

The interventions will also focus on agriculture water storage and management, livestock, fisheries and rural energy.

On renewable natural resources, the bank will ensure the sustainability of agricultural infrastructure investments in the face of climate variability.

"These efforts will indirectly lead to more food production, better food security and overall poverty reduction," Dr Kaberuka said.

AfDB research shows that financing requirements for agriculture in Africa are at about $8.1 billion annually.

Between 2010 and 2014, the bank's projects amount to $5.33 billion.

After 2014, the results of the strategy are expected to be measured using core sector indicators from the African Development Fund-11 results measurement framework.

"Adequate and well-functioning infrastructure will underpin agricultural development. "Reduced input costs and increased productivity will also increase returns on existing investments while reducing the cost of future investment in, for example, small-scale irrigation," Dr Kaberuka said.

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