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The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), a powerful demonstration of solidarity among African countries to improve agriculture and food security, needs to forge broader partnerships and explore innovative financing mechanisms to tackle the challenges facing the continent.
This was FAO's message at the opening today of a ASTF Round Table of Contributors in Malabo that has brought together heads of states and government, ministers and other representatives of the development community to recapitalize the Fund and launch a more ambitious second phase.
FAO established the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), a unique model of flexible pooled funding initiated and led by Africa, for Africa, to support African development initiatives and programs. Since its launch in 2013, the ASTF has benefited hundreds of thousands of family farmers, women and youth in 41 African countries by supporting a wide variety of projects that helped boost rural employment opportunities, increase agricultural production, generate new income streams and build resilience.
“Today we must build on the momentum and key lessons learned during these last years. Hunger and malnutrition are still major challenges in Africa and can only be addressed through broadened commitment,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General told the Round Table. “For this reason, the ASTF is forging new partnerships, particularly with development partners, banks and the private sector. To fully achieve the dream of the ASTF, we need a critical mass of contributors,” she added.
Forging a more ambitious second phase
The ASTF Roundtable of Contributors aims to ramp up actions for accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, share and exchange intra-Africa knowledge, and set up innovative financial modalities. Moreover, the second phase will expand partnerships to deepen continental ownership through the contribution by national governments and Africa-based private sector, while also offering the opportunity for non-African countries to support Africa to Africa initiatives. Vision and commitment
Acknowledging the lead role of Equatorial Guinea, which provided the ASTF with initial funding of $30 million, Semedo awarded the country's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago with a commemorative plaque. “FAO, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries, would like to recognize your pioneering and sustained efforts in financing the ASTF. You have demonstrated vision, engagement and a strong spirit of solidarity for Africa,” she said.
Transforming Africa through African solidarity
Over the past five years, projects funded by the ASTF, which has also benefited from a contribution of $10 million from Angola, have demonstrated the vital role of Africa-led responses to address urgent priorities and build the capacity of the most vulnerable across the continent. Such initiatives have also strengthened capacity and fostered intra-Africa collaboration in food and agriculture.
Through ASTF-funded projects, fish farmers in Guinea Bissau were introduced to floating cages for fish culture and cassava farming to boost youth employment and increase productivity. A farmer from Mingara district of Gabon learned new techniques such as crop rotation, spacing and alignment of plants, disease and pest control and received agricultural equipment, which has led to a tripled financial gain. In rural Rwanda, young people were trained to become rural entrepreneurs and are building thriving poultry businesses. Ethiopia and Ghana had a peer-to-peer exchange of experiences through study tours. Ethiopians visited Ghana to learn about agricultural mechanization including animal traction, tractor-based mechanization, intermediate mechanization and post-harvest mechanized equipment. In return, Ghanaian technical officers from the government ministries and civil society went on a study tour in Ethiopia to learn about the web-based e-Monitoring and Evaluation and Reporting System.
“No country can successfully deal with hunger and malnutrition alone. Building on the commitment, ownership, and cooperation that African countries have shown during the first phase, we look forward to the contribution of African countries and from “Friends of Africa” for this second phase,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
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