By: Rosemary Nzuki
A team of experts met at a joint policy seminar for the Malabo Montpellier (MaMo) Panel at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire where Dr. Adebisi Araba, CIAT’s Regional Director for Africa, was among the panelists. Also in attendance was CIAT Director General, Dr. Ruben G. Echeverría. The meeting synthesized three new reports developed by the MaMo Panel, and called for increased momentum by African leaders to ensure sustainable results in agriculture.
Nutrition, mechanization, and irrigation were the three thematic areas at the center of AfDB’s agriculture development agenda. The MaMo Panel and bank staff also discussed the appropriation of the outcomes of the reports by policymakers and planners. These outcomes are expected to inform future policy reforms and investments of AfDB and other development partners.
“Facts and hard data are essential to develop sound policies for accelerating agriculture transformation,” said Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President, Human Development and Agriculture at the African Development Bank. “And when investments are underpinned by well-informed policies, the African Development Bank and our member countries get the greatest value for money. This is why we support important research and analytical work like that of the Malabo Montpelier Panel.”
The first report, How Africa Can Build a Future Free from Hunger and Malnutrition, reveals that development actors needed to go beyond agricultural production and focus on improvements in the provision of quality diets, leveraging the potential of the agriculture sector, and other rural services such as health, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Shifting from a humanitarian approach to development-oriented policies is critical. However, for this to become a reality, “impacts of climate change and conflicts on nutrition should be addressed,” stressed Sheryl Hendriks, a member of the MaMo panel.
The second report, Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains, showed that overall levels of mechanization remain low in Africa. According to Noble Banadda, a MaMo Panel member, reversing this trend will entail increased collaboration with the private sector, skill development, training and support for domestic agricultural machinery industries. The Bank’s experts agreed that the conclusions of this report are in line with objectives of the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) Framework Program, a knowledge-and innovation-based response to the recognized need to scaling up proven technologies across Africa.
Key recommendations of the third report, Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies for Africa, also generated in-depth discussion.
MaMo Panel member Dr. Adebisi Araba, highlighted the urgent need to expand irrigation across the continent from small-scale schemes to farmer-led innovations and large-scale irrigation systems through an inclusive approach.
“Africa has only 6% of its lands under irrigation (which represents 7.7million hectares), compared to 14% and 37% for Latin America and Asia, respectively; it is time to expand irrigation to the potential of 38 million hectares,” said Mamadou Kane, an irrigation engineer at the African Development Bank.
About the Malabo Montpellier Panel
The core mission of the Malabo Montpellier Panel, a group of 17 leading African and international experts from the fields of agriculture, ecology, food security, nutrition, public policy and global development, is to support policy innovation and evidence-based dialogue among decision-makers at the highest level. The Panel’s reports seek to inform and guide policy choices to accelerate progress toward the ambitious goals of the African Union Commission’s Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration and the global development agenda.
Dr. Ruben G. Echeverría CIAT DG at Malabo Montellier Panel Briefing