22 March 2017

Ethiopia: Transforming Agriculture to Support Economic Growth

Recently, Ethiopia has launched its first Agricultural Extension Plan of action that will use market-oriented, demand driven and pluralistic practices and methods.

Furthermore, the strategy has believed to contribute significantly to the attainment of food and nutrition security, poverty reduction, and wealth creation.

According to the government report updated by Agricultural Transformation Agency, Agriculture and Natural Resources Minister Dr. Eyasu Abreha said the strategy will create effective and efficient agricultural extension system in the country.

In this regard, he said, it can play a crucial role to improve agricultural productivity and livelihood of smallholders by developing innovative, systematic and dynamic agricultural services.

The strategy is meant to be implemented by smallholding farmers, pastoralists and semi-pastoralists across the country, it was indicated.

Moreover, the agricultural extension strategy will benefit females and youth.

It stated that the strategy will serve as an umbrella for the agricultural sub-sectors, including crops, livestock and fishery, natural resources management and other cross cutting issues.

The agricultural extension services have greater potential to help farmers throughout the years, the file noted.

It is recalled that research-based agricultural extension service has been provided since 1953 by Haremaya University.

The Agricultural Extension Strategy launched Monday was developed based on consultative and interactive processes facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Agricultural Transformation Agency.

The year 2025 is the an important point for Ethiopia and Africa as a continent to achiev the aim of feeding the fast growing population with own production as stipuplate in country's Growth and Transformation Plan..

As reports mentioned, the world will need Africa's help to feed an extra two billion people in the coming generation. So making the right investments right now is crucial to unleash the huge potential of Africa's farms and agribusinesses. The AfDB, as one of the leading investors in agriculture in the continent, has been firmly on track on how it has deployed US$5.5 billion in investments in the agriculture sector over five years to 2015, according to the new Development Effectiveness Review on Agriculture.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will be held on May 22-26, 2017 in Ahmedabad, India.

The Annual Meetings are the Bank's largest annual event and serve to raise the profile of the institution on the global stage. In addition to the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, which constitutes the core purpose of the gathering, these Annual Meetings will bring together thousands of delegates and participants, and will feature a number of official, knowledge and side events. The Governors of the Bank are from the 54 regional member countries and 26 non-regional member countries. The Annual Meetings provide a unique forum for representatives of government, business, civil society, think-tanks, academia and the media - from Africa and beyond - to debate key issues on Africa's development, and to discuss the Bank's performance in delivering on its mandate.

Reflecting the significance of agriculture in Africa and in the Bank's development work, the 2017 Annual Meetings will be held on the theme: "Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa." Agriculture has a central place in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union's Agenda 2063, both of which focus on poverty reduction, overcoming hunger and food insecurity.

Reflecting the global and continental agenda, the Bank has aptly prioritized agriculture transformation by designating it as one of its High 5s: Feed Africa.

Agriculture is an important economic sector in Africa given its centrality to poverty alleviation, food security and economic transformation. Africa spends about US $35 billion per year on food imports and this figure could rise to US $110 billion by 2025.

The potential of the agricultural sector in Africa and the need to bridge the gap on food supply is itself a compelling business case for private sector investment. With over 65% of the world's remaining arable land, a youthful population - with 420 million people between the ages of 15 and 35 years - and a favorable climate, Africa has the potential to become a global agriculture powerhouse and the setting of the next Green Revolution. Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal and Burkina Faso provide valuable examples of successful agriculture transformation, the report stated.

Access to food - in quantity and quality - is a fundamental human right. It is also essential for ending hunger and malnutrition, and ensuring a healthier and productive workforce. Although agriculture employs over 60 percent of the African workforce and accounts for roughly a third of the continent's GDP, Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world with more than 232 million under-nourished people, or approximately one in four.

Structural food insecurity is a particular challenge in fragile economies, which are disproportionately susceptible to resource and commodity price shocks and where poor agriculture infrastructure, governance and weak institutions result in low productivity and a heavy dependence on food imports. Women face systematic discrimination across the continent, for example in terms of land ownership, which severely limits their opportunities to benefit from agricultural value chains. This is further multiplied by women's unequal access to inputs, household decision making, education, finance, and markets. FAO estimates that closing the gender gap could increase farm yields by 20-30%, and there is wide-spread evidence that closing the gender gap within households has wide-spread benefits for families.

As a result of these factors, Africa had an estimated net food import bill of US $35.4 billion in 2015, with about 15 food chains accounting for most imports, including 5 staple commodities such as wheat, sugar, rice, beef, soybeans.

Africa's potential for agricultural production is enormous, with 60% of the world's unused arable land. Increased food demand and changing consumption habits are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which are expected to grow from US $35 billion in 2015 to over US $110 billion by 2025, which could be offset by increased African production. Export of primary agricultural production is still very high in Africa compared to other regions of the world. Therefore, agriculture offers a realistic prospect for large-scale job creation, especially in fragile economies. Given the importance of food and nutrition, promoting agricultural value chains and improving market access have the potential to diversify economies, raise incomes, increase food security and macroeconomic stability, contribute to mitigating conflict and prevent internal and external migration.

The Bank has developed a strategy for long-term agricultural transformation in Africa. In October 2015, the Bank organized a high-level Ministerial Conference on "Feeding Africa - An Action Plan for Transforming Agriculture in Africa" in Dakar to map out how to unlock Africa's agricultural potential and boost job creation in view of diversifying economies. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) supports the realization of key Sustainable Development Goals through the development of an inclusive and competitive African agribusiness sector. Underpinning this vision are four specific goals: (i) contribute to the end of poverty; (ii) end hunger and malnutrition; (iii) make Africa a net food exporter; and (iv) move Africa to the top of export-orientated value chains where it has comparative advantage.

Through its strategy, the Bank will help unlock the potential of low-income countries using an approach where countries start treating the sector as a business and a starting point for industrialization. Unlocking agricultural potential and tackling food insecurity will require sustained multi-sectoral interventions (e.g. infrastructure development, intensive use of agro inputs and mechanization, enhanced access to credit and improved land tenure systems), appropriate policy reforms, promoting employment of the youth and women, and adopting an integrated value-chain approach that emphasizes access to markets and climate-smart agriculture. The Bank will work with others to promote, where appropriate, the development of agro-allied industrial zones that can produce value-added products. The Bank will also invest in regional infrastructure and enhanced policy dialogue to remove trade barriers, thereby assisting in reducing food price volatility and food insecurity. Finally, the Bank will prioritize agricultural projects that target gender inequality and enable women to have equal access to opportunities throughout agricultural value chains.

The Bank intends to play a key role in catalyzing agricultural transformation, working in conjunction with its partners, in three ways: (i) orchestrate at the sector level the activities of the Bank and partners to create impact-oriented borrowing plans and an evidence-based implementation plan for transformation, in the form of an 'Agricultural Transformation Partnership for Africa' (ATPA); (ii) design and lead the operation of areas that are both critical to drive transformation and for which the Bank is able to leverage its comparative advantages; and (iii) scale and replicate the activities and programs of partners that have demonstrable success and the potential to play a key role in country and commodity specific transformation.

The overall goal of the Feed Africa priority is to make Africa a net food exporter by 2025. Transformation will involve mobilizing resources and capital, representing a significant opportunity for potential to drive inclusive and green growth actors along the value chains. Transforming an initial set of agricultural value chains will require approximately US $280-340 billion over the next decade. Such an investment would likely create new markets worth US $55-65 billion per year by 2025. The Bank Group's investments in agriculture (both public and private) are envisaged to quadruple from a current annual average of US $612 million to about US $2.4 billion.

There is absolutely no reason why Africa is a net food-importing region, spending over $35 billion importing food. Africa must feed itself - and Africa must become a global powerhouse in food and agriculture, "AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina"

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