AfDB contributes to regional food security through forum

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By Temitope Ponle
Abuja, Sept. 7, 2020 The African Development Bank (AfDB) says its partnership with African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is to promote policies aimed at ensuring food security in the continent.

Mrs Wambui Gichuri, AfDB’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

Gichuri said the partnership had become imperative because of the need to prioritise policy support in the light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As COVID-19 causes disruptions across Africa, we must prioritise policy support, especially for small and medium enterprises that produce, process and market 60 per cent of food consumed on the continent.

“We need to enhance movement of inputs and food, increase production of, and access to, healthy and nutritious foods, establish food security task forces in countries, as well as strengthen regional organisation capacity to monitor multi-country initiatives.

“AGRF is the platform to move these policy conversations forward,” she said, and added that “the acting vice-president will lead the Bank’s ‘digital delegation’ to AGRF.”

The statement said the delegation included Atsuko Toda, the bank’s Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development, and Martin Fregene, the bank’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry.

Others included Esther Dassanou, Coordinator of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for the Women of Africa initiative (AFAWA), and Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth programme.

According to the statement, the delegation will take part in nine AGRF sessions.

Gichuri is scheduled to deliver remarks during a nutrition-themed plenary entitled “Building Back Better – Growing the Continent”.

“This policy symposium is expected to discuss the UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the ongoing pandemic, and feeding the continent,” the statement added.

It said that Toda would moderate a bank-organised AGRF side event tagged “Integrating African Food Systems through the Lens of SME Champions”.

The session is expected to amplify the voices of small and medium enterprises in the production, processing, logistics and cold chain solutions sub-sectors.

“Feeding Africa’s growing population is not just about producing more food. It is also about getting food to people who need it most.

“We support entrepreneurs along food system value chains helping to make that happen,” Toda said.

It said Fregene would be a panelist at an AGRF pre-event, “Scaling Up”, and was expected to speak during another pre-event session, “Agriculture Technologies for Feeding Cities AGRF.

“Agriculture and strengthening food systems are cornerstones of Africa’s plan to build back better coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AGRF online will convene the most senior decision-makers of governments in the same digital space as grassroots players along the agricultural value chain – we at the Bank are proud to be part of it,” said Fregene.

According to the statement, Mpyisi will help judge the AGRF Agripreneur Competition finale parallel session.

It adds that “the competition brings together young entrepreneurs, innovators and movers and shakers” in Africa’s agri-food sector.

“He is also expected to serve as a panelist on the ‘Strengthening the Ecosystem for Young African Agripreneurs’ session.”

It said the session would look at action plans on how to better serve the needs of young agripreneurs.

Meanwhile, AFAWA Coordinator, Dassanou, would join a panel of experts to discuss “Making the Most of Gender-Based Financing”

The session will focus on the methods needed to identify and fund women entrepreneurs who were part of the hidden middle that linked farmers to the value-added processing, retailing and food service sectors in urban centers across the continent.

According to the statement, AGRF is Africa’s largest agriculture conference which will be streamed live online for the first time between Sept. 8 and Sept. 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tenth annual AGRF will be attended by African Heads of State and Government, and would bring together delegates from governments, civil society, the private sector and research communities.

Naija247news reports that AGRF 2020 is hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the AGRF Partners Group, organised under the theme “Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent. Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa”.

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