Business News of Wednesday, 23 May 2012
The World Bank on Wednesday approved $120 million financing for the second phase of the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme, expected to improve food production by spreading new agricultural technologies in Ghana and Senegal.
The programme would finance technology exchange programmes, align national priorities with regional ones to increase regional cooperation in food technology generation, and support a greater push for technology adoption and dissemination.
This was contained in a release copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The statement quoted Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region as saying “the Bank’s support takes a resolved approach to making agriculture more productive and sustainable in West Africa. It will contribute to increasing growth in the economy, improve food security and reduce poverty.”
It said with the population expected to increase from 300 million in 2011 to about 500 million in 2030, West Africa was faced with the challenge of satisfying rapidly growing food demand.
It said the recent food, fuel and financial crisis had demonstrated the need in West Africa to fully utilise the sub-region’s agricultural potential.
The release said it was possible to increase production of key commodities that represented the basis of the West African food security system.
“Adopting new and improved crop management practices can increase cereal crops by 30 per cent; irrigated rice systems could benefit from yield increase by nearly 50 per cent; and cassava yield can be raised more than 40 per cent,” it said.
The release said regional production covered 80 per cent of the population’s food needs in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), adding that about 20 per cent of its imports were food products.
“West Africa is severely affected by the current rise in global food, financial and fuel prices. Intra-regional agricultural trade remains limited and its share of the total world agricultural trade is marginal. Climate change, increasing population, and poor conditions of natural resources reveal an urgent need for improved agricultural production,” it said.
The release quoted Abdoulaye Toure, Task Team Leader for the project as saying “The programme will help Senegal and Ghana boost agricultural production to cope with the increasing demand for food in the region.”
He said “We are pleased to work in partnership with ECOWAS to boost dominant sectors, such as agriculture, to their potential so that the people of these countries can become self-sufficient and secure in food production.”
The World Bank’s International Development Association programme (IDA), which was established in 1960, had helped the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.
It is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.
Since its inception, IDA has supported activities in 108 countries and annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 per cent of commitments going to Africa.**