KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
ZAMBIA is among African countries with the potential of reducing poverty through the development of a well-established agri-business industry, a new joint report reveals.
Other countries include Ethiopia, Senegal, Kenya and Ghana.
According to a joint market brief by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group availed to the Daily Mail recently that there is need to unlock the potential in agri-business by fully exploiting irrigation services to drive economic growth.
â€œIn Africa, agri-business has the potential to reduce poverty and drive economic growth more than any other sector. But unlocking that potential will require a significant increase in historically low levels of productivityâ€¦ an area where irrigation can play an important role,â€ the market brief says.
The market briefs target private sector investors and companies interested in investing in modern irrigation technologies in sub-Saharan Africa, but are of wider interest to stakeholders engaged in agricultural development in these countries.
Commenting on the development, FAO Investment Centre economist Lisa Paglietti said sub-Saharan Africa holds the greatest potential for expanding irrigated agricultural, considering both its vast land and water resources.
â€œThe region has the lowest proportion of total cultivated area under irrigation at just over three percent, compared with the global average of almost 21 percent,â€ she said.
Ms Paglietti said modern irrigation systems could substantially increase irrigated agricultural production, ensure a more efficient use of resources, including limited water resources, and reduce the effects of drought.
And World Bank Group agricultural water specialist with the IFC Richard Colback said the bankâ€™s target of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity is strongly aligned with support for development within the agriculture sector and in particular, irrigation.
Mr Colback said the sustainable use of water for the irrigation of crops addresses a growing need across Africa for effective responses to the economic and resource constraints.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka