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Donors pledge $17m to end rural poverty in Africa

United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)

African and non-regional donors have pledged $17 million to replenish the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, an initiative that aims to provide food security and eliminate rural poverty on the continent.

The pledges were made at a high-level donor roundtable convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s 2019 Annual Meetings currently underway in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

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Opening the conference at the Sipopo conference center, Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, said the fund illustrated “a turning point in the fight against food insecurity”, adding that his tiny oil-rich nation had donated generously out of its oil revenues to show solidarity to African countries.

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The fund, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, received its start-up contribution of $30 million from Equatorial Guinea, the host nation of this year’s meetings and Angola, which gave $10 million. Its projects have been lauded for providing innovative solutions for African agriculture and food systems.

Speaking on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, the bank’s Vice President Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, said Africa faced challenges in the area of agriculture and food production, relying heavily on food imports.

“It’s so important that ASTF is showing that African countries are contributing to Africa. That links very closely to what we are doing,” Blanke said, adding that the bank was committed to providing farmers with technologies to help improve their yields.

The donor conference was attended by the presidents of Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, the prime minister of Eswatini and several high-ranking diplomats, ministers and development and banking institutions.

The theme of the bank’s meetings this year is ‘Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’.

The push for regional integration has gained momentum with the ratification of the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018, which is now at the threshold of its launch in July.

“You can count on us that we will be very involved,” Blanke added.

Ms Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO who represented FAO head, José Graziano da Silva, commended the fund for its results.

The fund has led to the successful implantation of 18 projects that have benefitted 41 countries and hundreds and thousands of beneficiaries, including 160 vulnerable households in Niger who saw transformation and grants which enabled a rapid response to populations affected in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

The meeting raised a total of $17 million – $10 million from Angola, $2.6 million, from China, Euros 2 million from France, $2 million from Equatorial Guinea and $100,000 from Zimbabwe.

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