The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) and Grow Africa organized the first-ever Leadership for Agriculture Forum (L4Ag) on the margins of the 5th African Union – European Union Summit taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 29-30 November 2017. The Forum explored how agriculture and agribusiness can be the engine of economic transformation in Africa.
In his opening remarks, the AfDB President stressed the need to help Africa to modernize its agriculture because billions of dollars are invested per year to import food. “We need to modernize, we need to have young educated farmers, because agriculture is the most interesting economic activity” he said.
The forum draws on recent analysis and findings from the World Bank’s “Improving the Business Climate in Agriculture 2017” report and the “African Transformation Report 2017” of the African Center for Economic Transformation.
Africa’s agriculture sector and agribusiness are projected to create a US $1 trillion by 2030. Despite this tremendous potential, total investment in the sector falls short of levels required to deliver fundamental change to fuel agricultural transformation.
Constraints to the development of the agribusiness sector in Africa include: low yield; an unsupportive enabling environment; insecure land tenure; insufficient/inadequate hard and soft infrastructure; poorly developed marked linkages; limited value-added processing capacity; high post-harvest losses; insufficient inclusion of youth and women; and limited access to technologies, information, skills, and finance.
Edmond Coulibaly, Agriculture Advisor to the Minister of Finance, on behalf of Adama Koné, acknowledged that agriculture is a powerful catalyst for the transformation of African economies.
Grow Africa also presented its newly launched Country Agribusiness Partnership (CAP) Framework, which responds to the Agenda 2063 agribusiness ambitions to (i) increase the share of indigenous private sector contribution to the continent’s GDP to not less than 50%; (ii) achieve a threshold of at least 90% of agricultural cash crops produced on the continent to be processed locally and the Malabo Declaration commitment to enhance investment finance in Agriculture, boosting intra African trade, ending hunger and halving poverty by 2025.
The L4Ag Forum featured a keynote address and two panel sessions with African Finance and Agriculture Ministers and business leaders from across the African continent. The first panel, “Enabling the Business of Agriculture: Increasing Access to Agricultural Inputs to Enhance Productivity and Regulatory Reforms”, focused on improving commercial access to seeds, fertilizer, and mechanization. The second panel, “Agriculture Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation: Fueling Agro-industry and Agribusiness”, drew attention to commercializing agriculture; adding value and spurring agro-industry; and innovative financing.
During the Action Roundtable sessions, African high-level government officials and business leaders were provided the opportunity to re-imagine government and business engagement, brainstorm achievable goals around a specific agribusiness sector growth policy, and explore investment opportunities in agribusiness ventures.