The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) signed a memorandum of understanding for future collaboration to promote agricultural infrastructure development and skills training for women and youth. The agreement would also advance climate-smart agriculture in Africa.
FAO Director-General Dr. Qu Dongyu and BADEA Director-General Sidi Ould Tah signed the agreement on 29 April in a virtual ceremony during a high-level dialogue organized by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa and the CGIAR global partnership.
“Africa is a top priority for FAO,” said Qu Dongyu. With this agreement, “we want to modernise Africa’s agriculture, and make it more efficient, more inclusive and more sustainable,” he added.
The pact formalizes and extends an enduring cooperation relationship between the two entities as well as advances one of the goals of the two-day dialogue: stronger partnerships to scale up Africa’s food systems.
“Our High-level Dialogue on Feeding Africa provides a platform for commitments advancing Africa’s agricultural and food systems transformation,” said Atsuko Toda, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, and its Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development.
“The virtual signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa showcases international interest in scaling up programs and policies that work across the continent,” she added.
The MOU also covers private sector engagement in agriculture, market information, agricultural value-chains development, scaling up production and productivity for pastoralists as spheres for collaboration.
The Bank supports collaborative efforts to boost Africa’s agricultural productivity through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative – a partnership of the African Development Bank, the CGIAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
Under a partnership with TAAT, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde told the virtual dialogue audience that “the government has identified key priority intervention areas to increase productivity of small-scale farmers and expand large-scale commercial wheat production with an ambitious plan to achieve wheat self-sufficiency by 2023.”
Engaging youth in agribusiness will be critical, the Bank’s President Akinwumi A. Adesina said. “The young people, they are the ones who will use the drones, they use satellite imagery, they use remote sensing.”
The two-day dialogue brought together 18 African heads of state as well as Agnès Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit; Tony Blair, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Global Change; the heads of FAO, BADEA, the Islamic Development Bank Group and Afreximbank among others.
“We need your strong political leadership to turn Africa into an African powerhouse,” Adesina told African leaders. “We have the technologies and the technology delivery platforms. We need better policy incentives and greater access to financing to support agricultural transformation.”