The World Bank’s board has on the 18th of December 2018 announced its approval of a $50 million project to increase the availability of agricultural technologies in Southern African countries such as Angola and Lesotho, this is in accordance with the bank’s effort to improve the agriculture productivity in the region.
This project is set to be carried out under the auspices of the current World Bank-financed Agriculture Productivity Program for Southern Africa (APPSA). The project also involves three other countries in the Southern African region such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
The initiative, APPSA is aimed at improving and creating more agricultural technology in the region to ensure the improvement of the competitiveness and resilience of the African agricultural sector; the program is aimed at using regional integration as a key mechanism to achieving higher rates of growth and poverty reduction in the continent.
Over the years, the agricultural productivity in Southern Africa has experienced exponential growth, however, the average yields of countries such as Angola and Lesotho’s are below the regional average as produced by other countries in the region. Hence, this project is expected to help narrow these gaps with additional investment in technology adaptation as well as dissemination for the selected region.
Mark Cackler; World Bank’s Agriculture Practice Manager, in his statement said“This project will help researchers, farmers, extension agents, input distributors and other end users in Angola and Lesotho to strengthen linkages between themselves and other participating countries,”
He further added that “This is in line with the World Bank’s twin goal to reduce extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity”.
The agricultural sector remains a pivotal aspect of the African economy and over the decades this sector has remained an important source of livelihood bringing about employment, and income of over 330 million inhabitants of Southern Africa.
However, in spite of Southern Africa n’s arable land as well as the availability of water resources, the productivity of this sector has not been fully exploited, hence, undermining the economic transformation and inhibiting the economic growth of the region and the continent at large.
APPSA is responsible for the financing of activities such as Innovative Research and Development (R&D) technology generation, the initiative also embarks on activities which are associated with the commodity groups or technology themes being targeted by participating countries as well as the strengthening of the institutions and the provision of enabling environment for technology adaptation in these selected countries.
These activities embarked on by the initiative are also in line with the regional policies and programs such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Regional Agriculture Policy (RAP), the African Union (AU)’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).
According to reports, the World Bank’s financing of $50 million World Bank is will be channelled as follows; $20 million of International Development Association (IDA), $25 million from International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), $5 million will go towards the Centre for Coordination for Agriculture in Southern Africa (CCARDESA) as a facilitating partner.