AFRICA – The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) have committed to strengthen their collaboration to increase food production and provide better nutrition for Africa’s growing population.

With 65% of global uncultivated arable land, the African Development Bank believes that the continent can feed itself and the rest of the world.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, received Africa-based Directors General of CGIAR at the bank headquarters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Jan. 25, to forge ways of scaling up food and agricultural productivity on the continent.

The meeting was the first coordinated group visit by the four Directors General/Regional Directors and one Deputy Director General of CGIAR for Africa.

The leaders focused on securing long-term financing for research activities and for CGIAR to enhance its effectiveness across the continent.

They also discussed capacity building for country-based national agricultural research services partners, young scientists and extension workers, and private-sector seed growers to produce certified seeds.

CGIAR centres are located across African countries and focus on enhancing food and nutrition security, reducing poverty, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services.

They are critical to achieving food security on the continent, just as their counterparts in Southeast Asia and Latin America were also key to accelerating agricultural growth and food self-sufficiency.

“I was pleased with the reforms at CGIAR, and we must ensure that it is held accountable for results which must be at scale. We must unlock Africa’s agricultural potential and deploy technologies to millions of African farmers. CGIAR is central to that, Dr Adesina,” the Bank President said.

Dr Adesina added that the African Development Bank, with the approval of its Board of Directors, could consider including CGIAR in its long-term lending programme to countries:

“CGIAR leaders have local knowledge, experience and networks and are better placed to work with national institutions to combat climate change and increase productivity and food security.”

Leading the delegation, Dr. Simeon Ehui, Regional Director for continental Africa and Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) noted that the African Development Bank has been a long-standing partner of the CGIAR in providing technology.

“We are confident that the African Development Bank’s support will continue and increase.”

The Director General of the AfricaRice Centre and CGIAR Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr Baboucarr Manneh, commended the African Development Bank for continuing to support the institution with rice-based technologies for farmers:

“The Bank’s support for the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties has led to the expansion of rice production in some African countries. We now have more than two million hectares of rice,”.

The African Development Bank, together with the AfricaRice centre, recently launched the US$650 million Regional West Africa Rice Development (REWARD) programme in 15 West African countries.

The programme envisioned to support one million farmers cultivating up to 750,000 hectares of land to produce 53 million tons of rice over five years.

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