AfDB moves to avert food crisis in Africa

Board approves US$1.5bn facility

May 21, 2022

BUSINESS REPORTER

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) board has approved a US$1.5bn facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis following supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

The approval of the facility Friday comes as Africa faces at least 30 million metric tonnes of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from Russia and Ukraine.

AfDB said the African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20m African smallholder farmers with certified seeds.

It will increase access to agricultural fertilisers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. This would be a US$12bn increase in food production in just two years, the Abidjan- headquartered group said in a statement.

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said: “Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food…”

The African Emergency Food Production Facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertiliser producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers earlier this month.

The ministers agreed to implement reforms to address the systemic hurdles that prevent modern input markets from performing effectively.

The price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45% since the war in Ukraine began. Fertiliser prices have gone up by 300%, and the continent faces a fertiliser shortage of 2m metric tonnes.

A number of African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items.

If this deficit is not plugged, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20% and the continent could lose over US$11bn in food production value, the bank said.

The agriculture plan will lead to the production of 11m tonnes of wheat, 18m tonnes of maize, 6m tonnes of rice; and 2.5m tonnes of soybeans.

The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20m farmers with certified seeds, fertiliser, and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.

The facility has a structure for working with multilateral development partners. This will ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact. It will increase technical preparedness and responsiveness. In addition, it includes short, medium, and long-term measures to address both the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of Africa’s food systems, AfDB said.

Beth Dunford, AfDB vice president for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said the plan builds on lessons learnt from the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 programme.

That programme has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact,” she said.

Over the past three years, the bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative has delivered heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 1.8m farmers in seven countries, increasing wheat production by 2.7m  metric tonnes, worth US$840m.

A five-year ramp-up phase will follow the two-year African Emergency Food Production Facility.

This will build on previous gains and strengthen self-sufficiency in wheat, maize, and other staple crops, as well as expand access to agricultural fertilisers.

The five-year phase will deliver seeds and inputs to 40m farmers under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme.

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