World Bank commits $100 million to ‘climate-smart’ agriculture in Africa at COP28

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Through the AICCRA project, scientists, and researchers from across CGIAR— the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network—will support African national and regional partners with scientific and technical capacity development, with the aim of enhancing climate information services and validating packages of technologies, services or practices for agriculture that are validated to be ‘climate-smart’.

So far at COP28, a total of USD 890 million has been pledged in support of CGIAR’s new investment case, placing the future of agriculture at the heart of climate discussions for the first time. With this funding, CGIAR will expand its work supporting smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries to shape more resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems, reduce emissions from farming, and boost access to nutritious, healthy diets. The rate of return to investments made in the CGIAR has recently been calculated to have an overall benefit-cost ratio of 10 to 1 across all CGIAR research.

Through the additional finance of USD 100 million from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) to the AICCRA project, CGIAR can continue to build on the its achievements so far.

By the end of 2023, AICCRA is set to have supported nearly five million smallholder farmers and other African food systems stakeholders with better access to innovations, which help them make informed decisions about how to grow crops or manage livestock in a fast-changing climate.

The project is on track to reach or surpass all the objectives and performance indicators agreed with the World Bank Group at its inception, in order to reach its overall project objective, which is to strengthen the capacity of African governments, regional organizations, farmers, and other relevant stakeholders in enhancing access to climate information services and validated climate-smart agriculture technologies in African countries that are eligible for IDA funds.

AICCRA activities are focused on six African countries—Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia—while also supporting an array of African regional organizations in West Africa as well as East and Southern Africa. There are compelling examples of AICCRA’s impact across its focus countries and beyond.

For instance, in Mali 150,000 farmers benefited from higher yields and incomes thanks to the adoption of a digital app called RiceAdvice for sustainable rice cultivation, where it was ‘bundled’ with various practices that reduce both demand for scarce water and emissions. Malian farmers increased their income by USD 364 per hectare when using drought-tolerant varieties and following RiceAdvice recommendations.

Munda Makeover is a weekly TV broadcast in Zambia that reaches an estimated 1.9 million viewers. Thanks to ACIRRA support, the team behind the show bring together partners in the development, research, and commercial sectors to develop shows that simultaneously entertain viewers while informing smallholder farmers about relevant climate and agricultural information.

And in Zambia as well as Senegal, science-driven accelerator programs for small and medium sized enterprises are being implemented by AICCRA and partners to ‘de-risk’ investments into climate-smart agri-enterprises, including those led by women. The Zambia Accelerator has reached nearly 390,000 farmers so far and even secured a 200% return on the original project funding from private investors at a Zambia investor forum.

Through training programs delivered on a regional scale, AICCRA has expanded access to—and the use of—a state-of-the art seasonal weather forecasting system known as “NextGen” to 30 countries and the regional climate centers that cover West Africa and East Africa, aligning to AICCRA’s ambition of enhancing—for all farmers— agriculture advisory services that are based on high-quality climate information.

And in partnership with universities and agriculture extension colleges in Ethiopia, AICCRA is supporting partners to mainstream the teaching of climate services and climate-smart agriculture in higher education institutions across Africa.

With the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), such an approach is being adopted in many African countries.

At COP28, 130 countries signed up to the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action, which recognizes that agrifood system transformation is critical to achieve lasting food and nutrition security on a liveable planet.

In his remarks at COP28, the World Bank Vice President noted the importance of the declaration, because it highlights concrete steps that many countries intend to take towards a global agrifood system that is productive, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. And in wrapping up his remarks he said:

“The World Bank was one of the founding members of CGIAR, back in the 1970’s. We have contributed one and a half billion dollars in grant money to help CGIAR deliver….and we will do another 100 million over the next two years.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, CGIAR’s Executive Managing Director, said at COP28:

“As the world faces interconnected food and climate crises, we need CGIAR research and innovation today more than ever. With growing investment and a strong focus on partnership, we can harness the power of science to solve the climate crisis for a food and nutrition secure future.”

Speaking after the announcement by Juergen Voegele at COP28, AICCRA’s Director Dr Ana Maria Loboguerrero said:

“I am thrilled that the World Bank wishes to continue supporting AICCRA’s mission. The unique approach of our partnerships solves what many argue is the ‘missing middle’ between research and development to strengthen the resilience of the agricultural sector to the threat posed by climate change. AICCRA has made important progress in forging relationships of trust and collaboration between public and private sectors—and crucially farming communities too—enabling CGIAR scientific resources to be used in policy and practice. With additional finance, AICCRA will not only focus on broadening access to innovation, but also ensuring millions of farmers actually use such innovation in a meaningful and sustainable way.”

Juan Lucas Restrepo, Global Director of Partnerships and Advocacy at CGIAR and Director General of the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) said:

“I am hugely thankful to our partners in The World Bank for their continued and visionary support to the world class research and capacity-building activities carried out by the CGIAR centers with national and regional partner organizations in Africa. Our goal is to enhance access to climate information services and validated climate-smart agriculture technologies across the continent. This additional finance to AICCRA will allow us all to build on the compelling legacy of the project since it launched just a few years ago.”

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