AFRICA – The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, an initiative which aims to enhance food security in Africa, has received US$17 million in commitments aimed at replenishing food security efforts in the continent.

The development emerged in the side-lines of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) 2019 Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The pledges, by both African and non-regional donors, were made at a high-level donor round table convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Equatorial Guinea President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

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.

Speaking during the opening the conference President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, said the Fund illustrated “a turning point in the fight against food insecurity” in the continent.

The Fund, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, received its start-up contribution of US$30million from Equatorial Guinea, and Angola, which gave US$10million.

Its projects have been lauded for providing innovative solutions for African agriculture and food systems.

Speaking on behalf of AfDB’s President Akinwumi Adesina, the Bank’s Vice President Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke noted that 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 is committed to providing farmers with technologies to help improve yields.

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

“We celebrate the success of the ASTF …the excellent results of the fund over the last five years is living testimony,” Semedo said, describing it as a flagship initiative and one of the most successful funding initiatives in FAO.

The Fund has led to the successful implementation of 18 projects that have have benefitted 41 countries thousands of beneficiaries.

She said the generosity of the donors was unique evidence of strong solidarity between African countries.

The meeting raised a total of US$17 million with US$10 million from Angola, US$2.6 million, from China, US$2.26 million from France, US$2 million from Equatorial Guinea and US$100,000 from Zimbabwe.

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.

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