U.S., Sweden, Bank Launch Fund to Spur African Agriculture

A Kenyan farmer displays a sample of her crops.
A Kenyan farmer displays a sample of her crops.

By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer,
Washinton,
May 9, 2013

The United States, Sweden and the African Development Bank have launched a fund to encourage accelerated private investment in sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural infrastructure to connect small farmers with international markets.

Announced May 9 in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Grow Africa Investment Forum, the fund — called Agriculture Fast Track — will be funded by $15 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and $10 million from the government of Sweden. It was developed with support from USAID and will be managed by the African Development Bank.

The fund will focus on countries that are part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative launched in 2012 at the G8 Camp David Summit near Washington. Through the New Alliance, the G8 major industrialized nations, African countries and the private sector aim to help lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty by 2022 by supporting agricultural development.

The New Alliance matches market-oriented reforms in the African member countries of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia with $3.7 billion of planned private investments in the agriculture sector. (Mali is under review.)

“Since the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was founded last year, we’ve seen member countries make serious reforms that have led to real progress,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “The launch of the Agriculture Fast Track allows African farmers to take advantage of these reforms through fast-tracked infrastructure projects that will better deliver their products to markets.”Global food demand is expected to grow by as much as 60 percent by 2050, USAID says. With 60 percent of the world’s untilled arable land, predominantly farm-based economies, plentiful natural resources, significant gains in technology and private investment, Africa has the potential to feed not just its own people but others as well. Improved roads, ports and rail lines are critically needed to achieve that, USAID says.

Grow Africa is a partnership that seeks to accelerate investments and change in African agriculture based on national agricultural priorities. It says that for Africa to reduce poverty and food insecurity, partners need to renew and increase their commitments to work together and to integrate what they’ve learned to ensure that their investments are inclusive, sustainable and transformative.

USAID and Grow Africa support the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development established by the African Union in 2003.