EYEAFRICA TV: Abidjan, IVORY COAST:- The African Development Bank Group’s board of Directors this week announced that it has approved a $1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis.
With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.
The group says to avert the food crisis, 20 million African farmers will benefit from the facility, who will receive certified seed and technology to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food.
African Development Bank 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 UN humanitarian response group, OCHA, last April reported that West Africa faces its worst food crisis in ten years, with over 27 million people already suffering from hunger and an additional 11 million people could be pushed to hunger just over the next three months.
The AfDB group said African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies, saying its $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall.
The facility is expected to increase access to agricultural fertilizers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food; a $12 billion increase in food production in just two years.
Over the past decade, far from abating, food crises have been increasing across the West African region, including in Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali, and Nigeria.
Between 2015 and 2022, the number of people in need of emergency food assistance is said to have nearly quadrupled, from 7 to 27 million.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertilizer producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers earlier this month.
The price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45% since the war in Ukraine began. Fertilizer prices have gone up by 300%, and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 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% and the continent could lose over $11 billion in food production value,”
The $1.5 billion strategy is equally expected to 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.
The group said it 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.
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 (https://bit.ly/3yPQS9h) program. That program has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.”
He said 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 $840 million.
In April, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Adesina to a select Steering Committee of the Global Crisis Response Group.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations recently invited Adesina to make a presentation about the African Emergency Food Production Facility.