African Development Bank (AfDB) has deployed $5.5 billion in investments in agriculture over five years to 2015, a new report ‘Development Effectiveness Review on Agriculture released today said.
“It has become increasingly clear investing in agriculture is the best way to end hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty in Africa, the development report states. Given that seven out of 10 Africans earn a living from the land, agriculture can create economic growth spread more evenly across society, and extending deeper into rural areas, and helping more women, who make up 70 percent of farmers,” the report said.
The report also pointed out that agriculture can create jobs for the 10 million young Africans entering the labor force every year. Africa has tremendous scope to grow and develop its farming sector and make it an engine of economic growth, the report found: Africa imports twice the food it exports, and agriculture yields in Africa are only one-quarter those of China. African agriculture makes up a mere five percent of global trade.
It is also indicated that the Bank trained three million people on better farming practices, put 20,000 food marketing and storage into use, constructed four thousand kilometers of feeder roads, offered 150,000 microcredit loans, irrigated and built other water systems on 181,000 hectares of farmland.
“The Development Effectiveness Review is mission accomplished, as the AfDB sets out an even more ambitious agenda in its Feed Africa strategy to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2025”, Simon Mizrahi, Director of Quality Assurance and Results that authored the Development Effectiveness Review on Agriculture.
By 2025, Africa aims to feed its fast growing population with its own production.
A more robust agriculture system is also key to ending hunger, the Development report says, since one out of four people lacks regular access to food. What is more, agricultural development must be reoriented to factor in climate change: 65 percent of Africa’s arable land is now degraded, and moisture and fertility losses in African soils are worsening.
Over the last five years, the report detailed how AfDB steered its investments into promoting the continent’s transition to commercial agriculture: building up regional transport corridors to link rural farmers to city centers and ports, providing irrigation and building canals to reduce vulnerability to drought, planting over 64 million trees to boost the land’s hardiness in the face of climate change, and bringing agriculture experts together to collaborate, such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which helps family farms across 18 African countries.
Now the AfDB is gearing up to deliver more under its new strategy through 2025 by investing $24 billion, and boosting overall investment through equity, debt, risk and other financial means.
AfDB’s new Feed Africa strategy is one of its High Five priorities, which aims to end poverty, hunger, and malnutrition by 2025 and make the continent a net food exporter.
According to the press statement of the Bank, AfDB plans to achieve this by focusing on certain foods and growing zones, from wheat in North Africa to fish farming everywhere, and making Africa’s food value chains world-class by building markets, setting up commodity exchanges and linking farmers and buyers, among other means. Feed Africa will support agribusiness and innovation, climate-smart agriculture and build roads, energy, and water infrastructure.