AfDB group commits $1b more to tackle food crisis

Raises agriculture portfolio to $4.8 billion The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Donald Kaberuka, announced that Bank Group would add $1 billion (about (Frw543) billion to its agriculture portfolio, raised to $4.8 billion, a statement from the bank says.

Raises agriculture portfolio to $4.8 billion

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Donald Kaberuka, announced that Bank Group would add $1 billion (about (Frw543) billion to its agriculture portfolio, raised to $4.8 billion, a statement from the bank says.

Kaberuka made the announcement on Friday, 2 May 2008 in Tunis and said that the fund would help as part of a short-term action to help address the food crisis in Africa in regional member countries.

In the statement to the media, Kaberuka said the Bank Group would also restructure some of its agriculture portfolio to provide a rapid disbursement facility to the tune of $250 million (about Frw136 billion).

He urged cereals exporting countries not to suspend their exports because the practice will compromise the existence of about 150 million people in a dozen African states, especially the population of fragile countries, the sick and elderly.

Explaining that the bank had consistently supported the agricultural sector in its regional member countries, with a current portfolio of $3.8 billion, Kaberuka indicated that the food crisis required urgent and long-term action.

He said that the bank would find a way of assisting countries in difficulty by considering additional measures for budget support to these countries.

Use more fetilisers

Recently, the Board of Governors approved the establishment of the African Fertiliser Financing Mechanism Special Fund with a view to mobilising resources from donors to finance in particular, fertiliser production, distribution, procurement and use in Africa.

Given that delegates at the African Green Revolution Summit in 2006 called on the AfDB Group to host the fertiliser fund and the strategic importance of fertiliser in achieving the African green revolution to end hunger, there is a compelling need to increase the level of fertiliser use from the current average of 8kg per hectare to an average of at least 50 kg per hectare in 2015.

Devp infrastructure

In this regard, Kaberuka reiterated the importance of infrastructure in the resolution of the crisis, considering that current average post-harvest losses stand at a whooping 40 per cent where a reduction of 10 per cent of the losses would result in 5 million additional tones of cereals.

He emphasised the development of rural infrastructure as one of the Bank Group’s priorities to open up the landlocked areas to wider markets, attract great revenue for local farmers and drastically reduce post-harvest losses.

Kaberuka commended the emergency support offered by rich countries saying these efforts would go a long way in mitigating the crisis’ impact on the continent’s vulnerable population and elsewhere. He said the Bank Group was working with partners to respond quickly and effectively, noting however, that the crisis also provide an opportune time for Africa to think long-term on the agenda for the continent’s green revolution.

Food situation survey

He recently set up a Bank-wide taskforce to produce a "balance sheet" of the food situation in all regions of the continent to guide the institution’s immediate and long-term actions on the phenomenon.

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