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AfDB approves billion-dollar facility to avert food crisis

The African Development Bank Groups board of directors have recently approved a US$1.5bn facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis

According to the bank, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million mt of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries, with the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, 

The bank said that the African Emergency Food Production Facility is a comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall. The facility will aim to provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds while increasing access to agricultural fertilisers and enabling them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. The bank notes that this is a US$12bn worth of increase in food production in just two years.

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

The facility’s strategy will aim to reach production marks of 11 million tons of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans. The facility will also provide 20 million farmers with certified seeds, fertiliser, and extension services to support market growth and post-harvest management.

The facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms to solve the structural issues that 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 that will aim to ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact. It will also put efforts to increase technical preparedness and responsiveness and 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.

Dr Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank's vice-president for agriculture, human and social development, said, “The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned 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.”

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 tons, worth US$840 mn.

Long-term sustainability to wean Africa off food imports

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 40 million farmers under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme.