The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$ 89.4 million to support efforts of the Governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia to boost food and farm productivity.
Agriculture is the largest sector in the economies of the three countries and a major source of livelihoods for an estimated 277 million people living across southern Africa. Raising agricultural productivity is critical for fighting poverty, achieving food security and protecting the environment.
“Africa is taking major strides to improve its farm economy, which is necessary for building shared prosperity,” said Tijan Sallah, World Bank Sector Manager for Agriculture and Irrigation in Malawi and Zambia. “This program will finance strategic investments that will empower farmers with cutting-edge knowledge while increasing regional cooperation in agricultural research across southern Africa.”
The funding will help to establish Regional Centers of Leadership for major food staples including maize, rice, and food legumes, build agricultural research capacity, support regional collaboration in technology dissemination, boost farmer training and intensify knowledge-transfer activities. At least 30 percent of targeted farmers will be women.
The project is fully aligned with the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and supports its call for scaling-up regional collaboration in agricultural research and development as a way to efficiently address capacity constraints and increase technology spillovers in the rural economy. In addition to targeting farmers and livestock producers, the program is expected to directly benefit agricultural researchers, extension agents, seed producers and farm input suppliers. Every R&D project financed under the program will have a dissemination plan and support activities designed to ensure that new technologies do not remain “on the shelf” and move quickly to farmers fields.
“The agricultural sector has a strong influence on growth, employment, food security and poverty reduction efforts benefiting the entire economy,” said Michael Morris and Melissa Brown, World Bank Co-Task Team Leaders. “We look forward to the successful implementation of this innovative project that takes a farmer-centric approach to development and dissemination of improved crop varieties and promising farm practices.”
The Agricultural Productivity Program for Southern Africa will also provide a US$0.6 million grant to the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA).