Agriculture on AfDB Agenda in Uganda

Rufai Issifu

As part of the increasing discourse towards global partnerships for mobilising resources to support sustainable development projects, the European Union (EU) Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) led the way by organising the Blending4Ag Conference in Brussels, Belgium on 7-8 November 2016. The Conference brought stakeholders from the private and public sectors, regional organisations, and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to deliberate on the best ways private and public resources could be mobilised to finance agricultural growth and development. In contributing to experiences with blending techniques in agriculture and other sectors, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) highlights how it facilitates climate-smart irrigation agriculture in Uganda.

The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) is a multilateral development bank (MDB) which was established to support the long-term development of African countries. In 2015, the World Bank emphasised the important role MDBs will play in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs. As a result, the AfDB has clear plans for investing in sustainable development projects in the region. For instance, in Uganda, the bank is supporting the building of capacities in agribusiness value chain and investing in sustainable agricultural infrastructure.

One the initiatives of AfDB in Uganda is intended to reduce the impact of climate change on irrigation systems. The bank acknowledges the adverse impact of climate change on smallholder farmers in the country and food availability. In order to mitigate the impact of climate change on irrigation systems, the bank is investing in five (5) climate resilient irrigation facilities around Uganda.

Under the project, AfDB provides capacity development and soft support services to smallholders in Uganda in an attempt to enable them to utilize the sustainable irrigation facilities. The Bank is leveraging loans, grants, and guarantees to support the sustainable irrigation facilities in the country. These financial instruments by the Bank are aimed at making agriculture financing accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers in Uganda.

The AfDB also intends to make agriculture attractive to African youth who perceive the sector as old fashioned and unprofitable with many challenges including a lack of access to credit.

The bank is also investing in sustainable agriculture with the goal of changing the current trend of rural-urban migration in Uganda and Africa as a whole. The rural-urban migration phenomenon is partly due to the perceived lack of profitability of the agricultural sector. As a result, the AfDB wants to make agriculture attractive and profitable by making credit affordable to smallholders and through the provision of sustainable agricultural systems.

However, there is the need for the irrigation facilities in Uganda to target the poor. In many instances in Africa, such laudable projects are hijacked by powerful farmers to the neglect of the smallholders. It is important for AfDB to reinforce its partnerships with central banks in Africa to develop robust financial systems to support public-private financing of development projects. The AfDB should also help in building the capacities of central banks to enable them to leverage private finance to support agriculture.  This I am confident will build trust in the financial systems of African countries and will also crowd in more resources to undertake sustainable agricultural development.

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