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African Leaders, Donors Endorse ‘Ambitious’ Agriculture Development Plan

At a meeting this week in Nigeria to address African agriculture production, “African leaders and donor agencies have endorsed an ambitious plan to generate employment, income and food security in Africa by developing agribusiness and agro-industries,” Punch reports. The event was organized by the AU, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDP), FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), according to the newspaper (Ibrahym, 3/12).

The U.N. News Center reports that the African Agribusiness and Agro-industries Development Initiative, or 3ADI, “provides a framework and financial mechanisms for public and private sectors investors to finance development of the agricultural industry in Africa, whose population could double by 2050 to reach 2 billion people.” UNIDO Director-General Kandeh Yumkella said at the meeting, “Agribusiness in Africa needs to undergo a profound structural transformation and technological upgrading during the next 20 years to generate jobs and income urgently needed by Africa’s growing population” (3/10).

According to a UNIDO press release, “To feed the world in 2050, some US$9.2 trillion in cumulative investments will be necessary worldwide. … Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need some US$940 billion of investment. About 66 percent of these will be required for agribusiness and agro-industries capital outlays” (3/10).

According to Executive Secretary of UNECA Abdoulie Janneh, the majority of agriculture on the continent comes from subsistence farmers and the sector makes little use of fertilizers and irrigation, This Day reports. “As a result, he said the productivity of African agriculture lags significantly behind that of other developing countries,” according to This Day.

Janneh also noted that the continent spends $33 billion a year on importing food (Ogbodo, 3/11). He suggested Africa use the money it spends to imported food to capitalize “domestic production for regional and global trade, thereby contributing to reducing poverty and hunger and reposition the continent in the global economy,” writes the Daily Champion/allAfrica.com (Adesuji, 3/12).

Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development of UNECA, Josue Dione told conference attendees, “Developing agriculture for broad-based economic growth, food security and poverty reduction in Africa now requires an integrated approach to investing in improving productivity and efficiency at all stages of the commodity value chains, from research and development, to input markets, farm-level production, processing, storage, handling, transport, distribution to the final consumer,” according to a UNECA press release (3/10).

U.N. News Center reports that African States have already “pledged to invest through the AU a minimum of 10 percent of budgetary resources in the agricultural sector,” and the G8 last year “renewed the donor community commitment to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme, which has set an annual agricultural growth target of 6 percent to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty by 2015” (3/10).

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka announced at the conference that the bank has allocated $2 billion for Africa’s agriculture development over the next five years, Vanguard/allAfrica.com reports. “Kaberuka said the money would be given out as credits to countries to boost agricultural infrastructure, with emphasis on water mobilisation and rural infrastructure,” according to the newspaper (3/11).

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