Rising food prices an opportunity for Africa: AfDB chief

May 15th, 2008 - 12:14 am ICT by admin  

Maputo, May 14 (DPA) Rising global prices for basic foods, which some fear will exacerbate hunger in Africa, represent an opportunity for the continent, African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka said Wednesday. In a speech to the bank’s annual summit, which is being held this year in Mozambique’s capital Maputo, Kaberuka said spiralling prices for basic foods such as rice could provide the incentive for African farmers to boost their output.

“The rising food prices provide the opportunity, the incentive. But incentives alone are not enough,” he said noting that the costs of fertilizer and transport had also shot up and urging greater support for farming in Africa.

Kaberuka called the move by some countries in Asia and Africa to curtail food exports to prioritize the needs of domestic populations as a “beggar thy neighbour” policy. In March, India banned exports of all rice except basmati. Africa imports 26 million tonnes of rice, half its 50 million tonnes consumption.

“There is no better way to worsen the (food) situation than to interfere with supply chains at a delicate stage such as this,” the AfDB chief said.

Earlier this week, Kaberuka revealed the African Development Bank had set aside $1 billion towards revamping Africa’s agricultural sector.

Armando Guebuza, Mozambique’s president, said development in Africa depended on “strong and sustainable public and private investment” in agriculture and rural development and social and economic infrastructure.

Guebuza called for increased animal husbandry productivity, the establishment of rural markets and promotion of agro-processing among ways of responding to the food crisis.

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