• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

US forges stronger ties with AfDB, grants $9.5m to boost food production

US forges stronger ties with AfDB, grants $9.5m to boost food production

The United States of America has approved a new grant of $9.5 million to support the African Development Bank Group’s (AfDB) Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative (TAAT) to boost food production across the African continent.

According to Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, the grant, which is a part of the larger U.S. government ‘Feed the Future’ global hunger initiative, will be used for the second phase of the Bank programme called TAAT II to help African countries increase food production, introduce climate-smart technologies, and expand extension services, the AfDB said in its news website.

To date, TAAT has deployed climate-resilient agricultural technologies and fertilisers to 13 million African farmers in 40 African countries to help boost the continent’s food production and food security.

“The USAID grant will help expand the reach of TAAT II further.”

At a visit hosted by Akinwumi Adesina, the AfDB group’s president, in Abidjan on Tuesday, Blinken praised Adesina for the exceptional efforts the Bank is undertaking to help Africa feed itself and the rest of the world.

“Extraordinary work is being done to get to a place where Africa feeds itself and a place where Africa feeds the world. I’m convinced that can happen,” he said.

The two met at the headquarters of AfricaRice—a pan-African centre of excellence for rice research, development, and capacity building that implements Bank agricultural programmes.

“The United States will work with the AfDB to identify opportunities to partner with the US State Department’s Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) activities and develop an investment strategy,” the Bank disclosed.

TAAT aims to double the productivity of staple crops, livestock, and fisheries, by making proven technologies available to more than 40 million agricultural producers by 2025 and will produce an additional 120 million tons of food.

Alluding to that work, Blinken said: “The AfDB is making the necessary investments in sustainable production in a smart effective way and along with its AfricaRice programme maximising crops and producing crops that can stand up to climate change.”

Commending Adesina for his global leadership, Blinken said, “I applaud the Bank and your leadership for the powerful and inspiring impact of your initiatives. You are setting an example for others about how a bank is run.”

Beyond crops such as rice, Blinken said the Biden administration was convinced that there is tremendous potential in investing in the production of crops that are climate-resilient and highly nutritious including some of Africa’s neglected traditional foods.

The bank launched the AfricaRice initiative in 2018 to boost rice production. It now has 28 country members across Africa with some 15 expecting to reach rice self-sufficiency shortly.

“Since 2018 rice yields have increased by 25 percent and livelihoods by more than 31 percent,” said Baboucarr Manneh, AfricaRice director general who also took part in the visit.

The United States of America is the second-largest shareholder of all AfDB member countries, and the largest contributor in cumulative terms to the African Development Fund, which provides concessional funding to Africa’s poorest countries.

During Blinken’s visit, Adesina highlighted the sustainable impact of United States investment in Bank operations that align with shared priorities in Africa.

“The bank and the US government share a long-standing, results-oriented track record of collaboration on several issues,” he said.