IsDB President Addresses Heads of States Dialogue on Transforming Agriculture in Africa

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 29 April 2021 – President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Bandar Hajjar, says the Bank plans to invest US$ 3.5 billion in developing the agriculture sector in Africa.

He made the remarks at the ‘Heads of States Dialogue; A Shared Commitment to Transforming Agriculture in Africa’ held this week where his address followed speeches by heads of 13 African countries as part of a two-day ‘High-Level Virtual Dialogue on ‘Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale up Successful Innovations.’

In his speech, Dr. Hajjar elaborated that investments in Africa’s agriculture sector will develop commodity value chains for both staple food and cash crops. He further added that investing in agriculture is critical to improve technical efficiencies and productivity and connect local value chains to global ones.

Furthermore, he referred to the food and agriculture industry as the most critical industry in IsDB’s 57 Member Countries as it contributes US$ 650 billion to their GDP per year.

“For our member countries to be ready for future challenges, our new business model concentrates on leveraging global value chains. It analyzes the most competitive industries, identifies strategic investment opportunities, and builds resilient value chains to unlock the industries' full potentials,” he stated.

Elsewhere in his speech, Dr. Hajjar underlined the importance of increasing water use efficiency and productivity via affordable low-tech innovations, as well as developing climate resilient high yield plants with enhanced nutrition that lower production costs and enhance commercial farming especially in Africa.

“To address some of these issues, IsDB has recently launched a regional rice value chains program in partnership with the African Development Bank and BADEA to support five west African countries in achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2025. Along with our partners, we are investing about US$ 180 million to support the program,” he explained.

 “We will continue to support our 27 member countries in the African continent in developing and financing competitive commodity value chains along with appropriate tools that can be deployed to de-risk value chain investments,” Dr. Hajjar noted.

The IsDB President then asserted that the Bank has already invested in Strategic Preparedness and Response Program (SPRP) by providing 3.5 billion dollars of funding to support health, food emergencies and recovery programs in its Member Countries in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The high-level event focused on sharing knowledge and successful approaches to expand access to technologies and financing for agricultural research and development in Africa. The Bank also used the occasion to distribute a book titled ‘Rebuilding Resilient Agri-Food Value Chains for the Future’.

The two-day meeting was attended by heads of states, ministers of finance, planning and economy, agriculture and rural development, CEOs of multilateral development banks (MDBs), heads of international and national research and development institutions, business leaders, private sector seed and fertilizer companies, development partners, and representatives of academia and civil society organizations.