The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Departments of Agriculture and Agro-industry (OSAN) and Transition Support (ORTS) organized a workshop on “The Role of Agropoles and Agro-Processing Zones (APZ) in Feeding and Industrializing Africa” from March 22-23, 2016 in Abidjan, CAte d’Ivoire. Africa’s agricultural transformation was at the centre of discussions.
The objective of the workshop was to share experiences and develop best practices for the implementation of agropoles – agro-industrial integrated platforms – on the continent. The event also addressed the challenges of agricultural transformation in the context of fragility. The event brought together more than 120 participants from 30 Regional Member Countries, including Government officials and key actors from the public and private sector. Global agribusiness companies, international development partners and experts used the opportunity to provide their insights on developing agropoles and scaling up agroprocessing across Africa.
Speaking on behalf of AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, the Director of Cabinet and Chief of Staff, Sipho Moyo, underscored the relevance of agriculture and agroindustry in changing the lives of the most vulnerable African people and in the continent’s overall transformation. “Agriculture must be the engine of Africa’s economic transformation,” she highlighted.
Also speaking on the occasion, the Agriculture and Agro-industry Department Director, Chiji Ojukwu, revealed that the continent faces a staggering food import bill of US $35.4 billion per annum which is projected to increase to US $110 billion by 2025. “Can Africa continue to afford importing food at this level and magnitude?” he asked.
AfDB Transition Support Department Director Sibry Tapsoba observed that the region’s agricultural transformation faces greater challenges in situations of fragility. “Despite having large amounts of available arable land, some countries facing violence and conflicts are unable to attain food security,” he said.
Participants took part in working group sessions to share perspectives on topics including infrastructure, regional integration, attracting investments in fragile situations and networking opportunities for African agropoles and agro-processing zones. The two-day extensive meeting closed with the following key recommendations for the Bank Group:
1. Support the establishment of a network of Agropoles and Agroprocessing Zones in Africa to promote the implementation of a continent-wide agropoles strategy.
2. Facilitate investments in agropoles in countries facing situations of fragility.
3. Develop generic strategic and planning guidelines for the creation of agropoles and agroprocessing zones for African countries and provide technical assistance to them.
4. Integrate the development of agropoles in other initiatives supported by the AfDB such as agricultural value chains, youth employment, commodity exchanges and other investments in the agriculture sector.
The output of this workshop will contribute to the formulation of the strategy for bringing about the African agricultural transformation that was called for by the High Level Conference on Feeding Africa held in Dakar in October 2015.
Source: African Development