ABIDJAN — Despite Africa’s massive potential for agricultural production, a growing percentage of processed foods consumed across the continent is imported. Working to reverse this trend, the African Development Bank launched a project in 2017 to increase the number of processing facilities in rural Africa. It’s one of the banks “big plays” on agriculture, Jennifer Blanke, vice-president of agriculture, human, and social development at the bank, told Devex.
The “Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones” initiative aims to provide African governments with funding to build up infrastructure in highly productive agricultural areas, to encourage the private sector to build processing facilities there. The bank hopes this will cut back imports and create jobs to entice unemployed youth living in cities back to rural areas. The initiative is part of the bank's Feed Africa strategy.