By Etuka Sunday
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the FAO yesterday agreed to boost joint efforts aimed at catalysing agriculture sector investments in Africa to end hunger and malnutrition and increase prosperity throughout the continent.
In terms of the agreement, the African Development Bank and the FAO are committed to raise up to US$100 million over five years, to support joint activities.
AfDB in a statement said, specifically, the new strategic alliance seeks to enhance the quality and impact of investment in food security, nutrition, social protection, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development.
The statement said, AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signed the agreement, which builds on a longstanding collaboration between their organizations, at the UN agency’s Rome headquarters.
José Graziano da Silva said, “FAO and the African Development Bank are deepening and broadening our partnership to assist African countries achieve the sustainable development goals.
Leveraging investments in agriculture, including from the private sector, is key to lifting millions of people from hunger and poverty in Africa and to ensuring that enough food is produced and that enough rural jobs are created for the continent’s growing population.”
The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads global efforts to defeat hunger.
President Adesina said, “The signing of this supplementary agreement is a milestone moment in the relationship between the African Development Bank and FAO. It signals our joint commitment to accelerate the delivery of high quality programs and increased investment for public-private-partnerships in Africa’s agriculture sector. This will help us achieve the vision of making agriculture a business, as enshrined in the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy.”
The Bank’s Feed Africa strategy, launched in 2015, targets to invest US$24 billion into African agriculture over a ten-year period. The aim is that of improving agricultural policies, markets, infrastructure and institutions to ensure that agricultural value chains are well developed and that improved technologies are made available to reach several million farmers.
The strengthened partnership between the African Development Bank and FAO envisages acollaborative programme of action with a series of outcomes, including better and more effective Bank-financed investment operations; increased public-private-partnership investments; a better investment climate and portfolio performance; and, advocacy and joint resources mobilization.
FAO’s technical assistance would cover areas such as sustainable agricultural intensification and diversification, scaling up value chain innovations, youth in agriculture and agribusiness, agricultural statistics, climate smart agriculture, blue growth/blue economy, food security and nutrition, agri-food system, food safety and standards, women’s economic empowerment, promotion of responsible private investments, resilience and risk management and capacity building for transition states.
The collaborative program would be created through an initial financial contribution of up to US $15 million by the two institutions.
Joint advocacy and policy advice activities will include the promotion of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, both endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security.
Long-term collaboration between the African Development Bank and FAO began in 1968. Since then, FAO has provided technical assistance to the formulation of 161 projects financed by the Bank, valued at over US$3.7 billion and representing about 21 percent of the Bank’s support to the agricultural sector.
Recent collaboration between the Bank and the FAO include project formulation support in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea; technical assistance for the development of Blue economy programmes in Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Cape Verde, feasibility studies for agricultural transformation centres in Zambia, Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire; and participation in the African Leaders for Nutrition initiative.
The Bank and the FAO have also contributed to a series of continental dialogues on post-harvest loss reduction, and the Great Green Wall of the Sahel and Sahara Initiative.