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Reuters Examines How Much Of G8 Agriculture Investment Is New

Three billion of the $20 billion that G8 leaders promised to invest in agriculture in developing countries “appears to be new money, diplomats and sources close to the matter said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “Most of that new money, up to $2 billion, is coming from the United States, according to two sources, one on the donor side and one on the recipient side,” the news service writes.

According to one diplomat, “In the $20 billion figure people have included all sorts of things, double counting stuff, putting in loans and grants: the real new money is $3 billion at best.” The news service writes, “Even if the $20 billion materialised over the next three years, that would be a fraction of what is needed given the heavy impact of high food prices and the financial crisis on poor countries, according to experts at U.N. agencies.” Based on the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) calculations, $44 billion per year is required to increase agriculture in developing countries.

There is disagreement among donors about who should manage the funds. That subject as well as the G8’s broader pledge, which represents a shift away from emergency food aid, “will top the agenda this month” at the FAO’s food summit, “which aims to reach a broad consensus on the need to pump more money into agriculture to help poor countries feed themselves,” the news service writes (Aloisi, 11/3).

BADEA Pledges $1B For New Agriculture Plan

The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) has pledged $1 billion for a new five-year agriculture plan that aims to help governments prevent food price crises and minimize the impact of droughts, Abdelaziz Khelef, the bank’s director general, said Tuesday, Reuters reports. The funding for the 2010-2014 plan is a $100 million increase from the previous plan.

“BADEA was set up by countries in the Arab League to make grants and soft loans to development projects in sub-Saharan Africa,” Reuters writes. Khelef said that a quarter of the money would be used for agricultural and food security projects, “up from less than 20 percent in the last five-year period, he added.” According to Khelef, “Most African countries are facing a very difficult situation in terms of food security … And many African countries shifted their priorities towards food security.”

He said the bank would like to support irrigation, rural food marketplaces and other projects. But he added, “We go with the priorities of African countries. We try to really help them implement their plans.” BADEA does not have an emergency fund to help farmers in East Africa who are facing droughts, “But we can help them develop projects to avoid a repetition of this kind of crisis in future,” he said (11/4).