Aimed at averting a looming food crisis in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved an African Emergency Food Production Facility to rapidly produce 38 million tonnes of food translating into a US$1 billion increase in food production in two years.
The US$1.5billion facility will help African countries avert a looming food crisis, given the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war. Resultantly, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tonnes of food – especially wheat, maize,and soybeans imported from both countries.
At a media breakfast meeting, the African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies. The African Development Bank’s US$1.5billion African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall”.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds, fertiliser and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management. Providing fertiliser to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, AfDB intends to use its convening influence with major fertiliser manufacturers, loan guarantees and other financial instruments.
Dr. 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…”
Already this year, the price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45 percent since the war in Ukraine began. Fertiliser prices have gone up by 300 percent, and the continent faces a fertiliser shortage of 2 million metric tonnes. Many African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items. If this deficit is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20 percent and the continent could lose over US$11billion in food production value.
However, the African Development Bank’s US$1.5billion strategy is projected to lead to production of 11 million tonnes of wheat; 18 million tonnes of maize; 6 million tonnes of rice; and 2.5 million tonnes of soybeans.
“The Facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms that solve the structural issues which impede farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.
“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,” the Bank’s Group President said.
Largely, the Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Response to COVID-19 programme, which has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.
Over the past three years, the bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative has delivered heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 1.8 million farmers in seven countries, increasing wheat production by 2.7 million metric tonnes worth US$840million.