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    10 March 2010

    Reissued as received

    Abuja Conference Paves Way for Coordinated Flow of Investment into Africa's Agribusiness and Agro-industries

    VIENNA, 10 March (UN Information Service) - Participants at a high-level conference that ended in the Nigerian capital today endorsed an ambitious plan to generate employment, income and food security in Africa by developing agribusiness and agro-industries.

    Heads of State, Prime Ministers and Agriculture and Industry Ministers from 44 African countries, as well as heads and representatives of financial institutions and international organizations endorsed the African Agribusiness and Agro-industries Development Initiative, or 3ADI. The Initiative comprises a programme framework and associated financial modalities through which the public and private sectors can mobilize resources for investment in agri-food sector development in Africa.

    The three-day event brought together some 500 participants. It was organized by the African Union, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank, and hosted by the Government of Nigeria.

    To feed the world in 2050, some 9.2 trillion US dollars in cumulative investments will be necessary worldwide. The population of Africa could by then nearly double, and reach 2 billion. Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need some 940 billion US dollars of investment. About 66 per cent of these will be required for agribusiness and agro-industries capital outlays.

    The UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella, said that "agribusiness in Africa needs to undergo a profound structural transformation and technological upgrading during the next twenty years to generate jobs and income urgently needed by Africa's growing population". He added that the policy environment and technological capability required for the transformation of the agri-food system were more favourable than ever.

    "We can no longer think globally and act locally. We are now forced to think globally and act regionally in order to make Africa a vibrant industrial centre," said Yumkella, who comes from Sierra Leone. From 2000 to 2003 he worked in Nigeria as UNIDO Representative and Director of the Regional Industrial Development Centre.

    Some of the greatest growth potential for African agro-industry lies in small and medium enterprises, especially in assisting them to expand to take on national and regional markets. But large-scale agro-enterprises should also be promoted as they can have important poverty-reduction impacts. "It is essential to avoid policies, such as subsidies on labour-saving technologies, that bias technology choice in favour of large-scale, highly mechanized operations that are not aligned with the prevailing factor endowments and would not be competitive with more labour-intensive operations," said Yumkella.

    Yumkella said Africa needed a new approach, including a sharper focus on agribusiness, an integrated and comprehensive regional and sub-regional agribusiness development, and strategies to develop regional and continent-wide value chains. He added that private enterprises had to be stimulated, technology and innovation expanded, innovative financing mechanisms introduced, infrastructure and energy constraints removed.

    Improved governance in all parts of the value chain, according to Yumkella, was also crucial. "For agribusiness to become competitive, policies need to be in place, as well as research and practical actions to achieve a unique blend of ecological compliance and inclusive growth," he said.

    African states, through the African Union, have pledged to invest a minimum of 10 per cent of budgetary resources in the agricultural sector, and the G-8, meeting in L'Aquila, Italy in 2009 renewed the commitment of the donor community to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme. This Programme has set an annual agricultural growth target of 6 per cent to achieve the (MDGs) of halving poverty by 2015.

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    For more information, please contact:

    Mikhail Evstafyev
    UNIDO Advocacy and media specialist
    Mobile: (+43-650) 391-5278