The African Development Bank (AfDB) and other partners have budgeted a huge sum of US$30 billion to transform agriculture in the continent in the next five years.
Some of the funding will come from other major development partners, the private sector and some African leaders.
Nigeria, the giant of Africa, is expected to be a major beneficiary of the agriculture investment funds and may, indeed, get the lion’s share of the budget – much of which would be used to empower rural farmers.
The cheering news for African farmers came to light at a recent Green Revolution Forum tagged “New Push for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation,” which was held recently in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire. The massive fund is expected to benefit farmers in such a way that Africa’s Agriculture will be strengthened.
An AfDB report which looks at the progress being made to transform agriculture in Sub Sahara Africa, focused on why innovation financing is crucial for agricultural transformation, wealth creation and long-term prosperity in Africa.
The report revealed that “despite annual public investments in agriculture having risen across Africa, only 13 African countries have honoured their pledge to invest at 10 percent of public funds in agriculture as foreseen under the Maputo Declaration of 2003”.
The report said that the funds will support investments to increase production and income for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next decade.
“A session on “Making Political, Policy and Financial Commitments to Africa’s Agricultural Transformation “, saw Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyetta , pledge US$200 million to support 150,000 young farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to access market, finance and insurance over the next five years”, it was reported.
The AfDB announced investments of US$24 billion in the coming decade to drive Africa’s agricultural Transformation. Chiji Ojukwu, Director of Agriculture and Agro-industries Department, who represented the Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, at the Forum, said the $24 billion “is a 400% increase in financing to the agricultural sector by the Bank from its current levels of $600 million per year”.
This massive financial support, according to AfDB, “is to support the private sector to unlock the potential of Africa agriculture”. Adesina, in his keynote address delivered on September 8, 2016, during a plenary session on the “Role of Policy in Enabling Public-Private Partnerships to Achieve African Agricultural Transformation”, said “Africa must seize this moment and prioritize investments in agriculture”, and pointed out that “it is time to support African farmers; African farmers cannot fail”.
The African Agriculture Status Report 2016, launched at AGRF, also highlights the “importance of private sector investment in all aspects of agriculture such as inputs, as well as the agricultural value chain, including production, processing, marketing and transport”.
Development partners that pledged to contribute to the transformation of agriculture in Africa include a fertilizer firm, OCP Africa, which committed to invest US $150 million over the next five years “to support local fertilizer distribution, storage and blending’.
The World Food Programme promised to purchase at least US$120 million each year in agricultural products from smallholder farmers through a partnership called the Patient Procurement Platform.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged USD5 billion, “a portion of which will go towards crop and livestock research, strengthening data and improving systems to deliver innovation and information, and to provide better tools to farmers”.
The Rockefeller Foundation, on its part, pledged to contribute US$180 million towards investments in human resilience to catalyze agricultural transformation, while the Kenya Commercial Bank, East Africa’s largest commercial bank, will invest US$350 million in loans for smallholder farmers, 50,000 of them women – and 50,000 youths.