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World Bank’s Jenane: Building Resilience on Africa’s Plate

by Grace Kisembo

The breadbasket of Africa is brimming with potential, but the harvest is often threatened by conflict, climate change, and underinvestment. In this complex landscape sits Chakib Jenane, the World Bank’s Practice Manager for Agriculture and Food for West and Central Africa. Jenane, a Moroccan national with a quiet authority, is a key figure in shaping how the World Bank tackles food security challenges in the region.

Jenane’s journey to this critical role is rooted in academia. “From 1991 to 2001, I served as a university professor, specialising in agro-industry and agricultural machinery,” he says. “It was there that I developed a deep passion for the role agriculture plays in Africa’s development.”

This passion translated into action at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), where Jenane led the Agro-industry Technology Unit. He then joined the World Bank in 2014, bringing with him a wealth of experience across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

“The challenges we face in West and Central Africa are vast,” acknowledges Jenane. “Climate shocks disrupt planting seasons. Droughts and floods wreak havoc on crops. Additionally, many countries struggle with inadequate infrastructure and limited access to markets.”

However, Jenane is far from daunted. “The potential here is incredible,” he enthuses. “We have fertile lands, a growing population, and a real drive from farmers to succeed. Our role at the World Bank is to empower these farmers and build resilience into the food systems.”

One way the World Bank is achieving this is through the Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP). “The recently approved FSRP-3 in Senegal is a great example,” says Jenane. “This initiative will provide $200 million to strengthen agricultural research systems, improve access to climate-smart technologies, and establish digital advisory services for farmers.”

Jenane emphasizes the importance of digital solutions. “By providing farmers with real-time data on weather patterns, market prices, and best practices, we can significantly improve their decision-making and yields.”

Looking ahead, Jenane is optimistic. “There’s a growing awareness among governments and institutions of the importance of investing in agriculture,” he observes. “With the right partnerships and continued focus on innovation, we can turn Africa’s agricultural potential into a reality, ensuring a food-secure future for all.”

Chakib Jenane’s quiet determination and unwavering belief in Africa’s agricultural potential offer a beacon of hope in the fight for food security. As he puts it, “Africa has the potential to feed itself, and the World Bank is here to stand with farmers every step of the way.”

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