Experts from the Malabo Montpellier (MaMo) Panel and the African Development Bank, meeting in Abidjan to synthesise three new reports developed by the MaMo Panel, have called for increased momentum by African leaders to ensure sustainable results in agriculture.
The experts met during a joint policy seminar, held on 18 March in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
Nutrition, mechanization and irrigation are three thematic areas at the centre of the Bank's agriculture development agenda. MaMo Panel and Bank staff also discussed the appropriation of the outcomes of the reports by policy makers and planners. These outcomes are expected to inform future policy reforms and investments of the African Development Bank and other development partners.
"Facts and hard data are essential to develop sound policies for accelerating agriculture transformation. And when investments are underpinned by well-informed policies, the African Development Bank and our Member Countries get the greatest value for money. This is why we support important research and analytical work like that of the Malabo Montpelier Panel," said Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President, Human Development and Agriculture at the African Development Bank.
Nourished: How Africa Can Build a Future Free from Hunger and Malnutrition , the first report, reveals that development actors needed to go beyond agricultural production to focus on improvements in the provision of quality diets, leveraging the potential of the agriculture sector, and in other rural services such as health, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Shifting also from a humanitarian approach to development-oriented policies is critical. However, for this to become a reality, "impacts of climate change and conflicts on nutrition should be addressed," stressed Sheryl Hendriks, a member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel.
Marie Brou-Tanoh, Coordinator of African Leaders for Nutrition Initiative Secretariat, applauded the findings of the report and said that they will contribute to the achievement of the Bank's efforts in the area of nutrition including the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan 2018-2025, and the African Leaders for Nutrition Initiative.
The second report, Mechanized: Transforming Africa's agriculture value chains showed that overall levels of mechanization remain low in Africa.
According to Noble Banadda, a MaMo Panel member, reversing this trend will entail increased collaboration with the private sector, skill development and training and support for domestic agricultural machinery industries.
The Bank's experts agreed that the conclusions of this report are line with objectives of the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) Framework Program, a knowledge-and innovation-based response to the recognized need to scaling up proven technologies across Africa.
"Agriculture in African rural areas is still as painful as it was 100 years ago; we need to make smallholders' lives and work easier "said Edward Mabaya, Manager of the Agribusiness Development Division, African Development Bank.
Key recommendations of the third report - Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies for Africa, - also generated in-depth discussion
MaMo Panel member Debisi Araba, highlighted the urgent need to expand irrigation across the continent from small-scale schemes to farmer-led innovations and large scale irrigation systems through an inclusive approach.
"Africa has only 6% of its lands under irrigation (which represents 7.7million hectares), compared to 14% and 37% for Latin America and Asia, respectively; it's time to expand irrigation to the potential of 38 million hectares.", said Mamadou Kane, irrigation engineer at the African Development Bank.
Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the African Development Bank commended the work carried out by the Panel and highlighted the need to disseminate the reports' findings for greater impact. He also recommended Participation in significant fora and closer collaboration between the Panel and the Bank on policy-based based operations.
About the Malabo Montpellier Panel
The core mission of the Malabo Montpellier Panel, a group of 17 leading African and international experts from the fields of agriculture, ecology, food security, nutrition, public policy and global development, is to support policy innovation and evidence-based dialogue among decision makers at the highest level. The Panel's reports seek to inform and guide policy choices to accelerate progress toward the ambitious goals of the African Union Commission's Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration and the global development agenda.