BusinessDay

AfDB approves $1.5bn emergency facility to avert food crisis in Africa

…a long term sustainability to wean Africa off wheat …improves access to fertilisers

The African Development Bank Group’s board of directors on Friday approved a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis, the bank said in a statement.

The $1.5 billion facility  is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall induced by the Russian- Ukraine war.

With the disruption in the global supply chain caused by the crisis in the black sea region that accounts for almost a third of the world’s wheat export, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries, according to the statement.

“The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the AfDB’s Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 program,” Beth Dunford, the African president for agriculture, human and social development said.

“That program has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.”

According to the AfDB, the African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds.

It will increase access to agricultural fertilizers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. This is a $12 billion investment in food production in just two years, the statement 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,” Akinwumi Adesina, president, African Development Bank Group said in a statement.

“Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food…,” he added.

The facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertilizer 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.

Wheat prices has soared in Africa by over 45 percent since the war in Ukraine began. Fertilizer prices have gone up by 300 percent, and the continent faces fertilizer shortage of two million metric tons.

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 $11 billion in food production value, the statement noted.

The $1.5 billion strategy will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans, according to the statement.

It added that it will provide 20 million farmers with certified seeds, fertilizer, and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.

The African Development Bank will provide fertilizer to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, using its convening influence with major fertilizer manufacturers, loan guarantees, and other financial instruments.

Read also: AFDB commits to harnessing Africa’s clean energy potential by 2050

Also, it will 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. 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.

According to the statement, the facility is a long-term sustainability plan to wean Africa off wheat and other food imports

A five-year ramp-up phase will follow the two-year African Emergency Food Production Facility. This, the statement noted will help build on previous gains and strengthen self-sufficiency in wheat, maize, and other staple crops, as well as expand access to agricultural fertilizers.

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

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