In a captivating address that took place at an Abidjan, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken shared a vision for African agriculture that emphasises sustainable development and self-sufficiency, recognising the crucial role of innovative solutions in addressing food security challenges on the continent.
The Secretary of State, alongside representatives from the African Development Bank and AfricaRice, applauded the extraordinary efforts being made to transform Africa into a global food hub.
The focus is not merely on self-sufficiency but on turning Africa into a net exporter, echoing President Biden’s commitment to seeing Africa feed not only itself but also the world.
Blinken said, “And it starts with a lot of the extraordinary work that the African Development Bank is doing in making the necessary investments in sustainable production and doing it in a smart, effective way.
“And then the work that AfricaRice has been doing for so much time to maximize the crops and to do things that are, as we know from recent years, vitally important: producing resilient crops that can stand up to climate change and other weather-related events. The focus as well on nutrition, as we’ve just heard going through the different stands here.
“And then a virtuous cycle where not only are you doing the necessary in terms of production, but you also have the infrastructure necessary not only to produce but also to distribute. And these are some of the things that we’re working on, including with the investments we’re making in the Lobito Corridor, and we talked about all of that today.”
The Secretary praised the African Development Bank’s investments in sustainable production, applauding their effectiveness in addressing critical aspects such as financial intermediation, project financing, trade facilitation, and advisory services.
The collaboration with AfricaRice was highlighted, acknowledging the organization’s longstanding commitment to maximising crop yields and developing resilient crops capable of withstanding climate change and extreme weather events.
Blinken emphasised the importance of creating a virtuous cycle by not only enhancing production capabilities but also establishing the necessary infrastructure for distribution. Noteworthy among these efforts is the investment in the Lobito Corridor, a project discussed during the event.
Reflecting on the global crises of climate change, COVID-19, and geopolitical conflicts impacting food security, the Secretary shared the United States’ emergency response.
However, he underscored the African leaders’ call for a shift towards sustainable investments that empower Africa to feed itself. This aligns with President Biden’s three-year focus on sustainable African capacity building.
One of the key initiatives highlighted was the Vision for Adapted Soil and Crops (VACS). The secretary explained how VACS aims to adapt not only rice but also other nutritious traditional crops to be climate-resilient.
This adaptation, combined with advanced soil mapping technology, forms a powerful combination to revolutionise productive capacity across Africa.
The Secretary envisioned a future where Africa achieves not only self-sufficiency but becomes a net contributor to global food production.
He stressed the numerous societal benefits, including job creation, economic activity, and the empowerment of women in the agricultural sector.
Highlighting the pivotal role women play in this initiative, the Secretary expressed admiration for their contributions and cited the potential $28 trillion boost to the global economy if women achieved equal participation in the workplace.
He concluded by affirming the United States’ commitment to partnering with African nations in achieving this transformative vision for agriculture, recognising that feeding a child is a fundamental need that can drive profound societal change.