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World Bank Group Launches Drive to Support Agribusiness Growth in Southern Africa

Livingstone, Zambia, 7 April, 2010– IFC and the World Bank Group, supported by the European Union, today announced a major initiative to boost private sector agriculture output in Southern Africa to help the region meet a growing demand for food, and to support economic growth and job creation. IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.
To launch the initiative, IFC, the World Bank, and the European Union are hosting a Regional Agricultural and Food Security Forum from April 6-9 in Livingstone that is gathering industry leaders, private and public sector partners, financial institutions, farmer organizations, and civil society groups.
Participants will discuss ways to help emergent and small-scale farmers more easily access finance, and improve the quantity and quality of their products. The forum is supported by the Netherlands’ Rabobank and the Zambia National Commercial Bank, and facilitated by Dalberg
Peter Daka, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture, said, “Broader access to agriculture finance will require both public and private finance to support high impact interventions. Finding a formula for a sustainable partnership between the two will stimulate private sector led agriculture growth in the region.”  
Karen Brooks, Sector Manager for the Agriculture and Rural Development Department for the World Bank, said, “Agriculture plays a critical role in Africa’s economic development and is a priority sector for IFC and the World Bank Group on the continent. The World Bank Group and its partners are supporting private sector led growth across Africa’s agriculture sector to help commercialize subsistence agriculture.”
Francesca Di Mauro, Head of Section Economics and Rural development from the European Union Delegation in Zambia, said, “Agriculture is the main employer for most countries in southern Africa, and has the potential to lift many people out of poverty. The European Union fully recognizes agriculuture’s pivotal role and promotes a private-sector led development of the sector, with predictable government policies, and an enabling environment for small-scale farmers."
IFC is increasing support for African agribusiness in response to growing demand and rising prices for basic crops, a combination that threatens to send millions back into poverty. IFC’s direct investments and investments through financial intermediaries into African agribusiness companies totaled $160 million in FY09.
IFC launched the Africa Agriculture Finance Project (AAFP) in September 2009 to support farmers across sub-Saharan Africa .A program in Zambia was the first project to be rolled out under the AAFP.
IFC is the only international financial institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable development in emerging markets. Along with IBRD, IFC is currently seeking a capital increase to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing countries—including supporting the growth of Africa’s important agriculture sector.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit , , .
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit .
About the European Union
The EU is the primary donor to the initiative’s related advisory services and capacity building program, providing substantial funding to build local partners’ skills and support the regulatory environment, product development, and specific risk transfer projects in African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. The EU considers rural development as a priority area for assistance, given the importance of agriculture and rural development for poverty reduction and growth. The EU is a member of the global donor platform for rural development – a group of 30 donors and development agencies whose goal is to bring rural development policies into line with the OECD Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.